In one year, Jon Smith will go from being the big man on the Grove City High School campus to playing for one of the biggest personalities in Division I college basketball.

In one year, Jon Smith will go from being the big man on the Grove City High School campus to playing for one of the biggest personalities in Division I college basketball.

Smith signed a letter of intent Nov. 12 with Saint Louis University, coached by Rick Majerus.

"Jon has tremendous character, is a strong student, and most of all, has unbridled passion for the game," Majerus said through a release on the athletics department's Web site. "He is early to the gym and the last to leave. This summer, I saw him take a brutal undercut, spit up some blood, and I thought he lost some teeth. When he came back, he was upset when they would not let him back into the game. From that point on, I was as convinced as ever that he loves the game."

Smith was convinced that Saint Louis was where he wanted to play college basketball. Paul Biancardi, a former assistant at Saint Louis and Ohio State who now works for ESPN, saw Smith play AAU basketball, and that's where contact was made.

"My father lives out there so it was like killing two birds with one stone," Smith said. "I've been out there a couple times to visit him and the campus."

According to Smith, he is the latest in a new style of player Majerus and his staff are recruiting. Last season was Majerus' first with the Billikens, and they finished 16-15 overall and 7-9 in the Atlantic 10.

"They're trying to go for a more athletic feel," Smith said. "Their point guard (Kwamain Mitchell) is a faster and more athletic point guard. Their power forward (Brett Thompson) is 6-foot-10 and long and athletic like me. They're trying to complement those types of players."

Saint Louis was 2-1 overall before last Saturday's game against Boston College. Majerus is not wasting time putting his stamp on this team by recruiting players who can play up-tempo basketball. Grove City coach Greg Waits has employed a similar style.

"Jon is long, athletic and runs the floor like a deer," Waits said. "That's what colleges look for. Not only that, but he's a great character kid. Anywhere he would go he would be a great addition to any team."

Smith, a 6-7 center, averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Greyhounds last season and was Player of the Year in the OCC-Buckeye Division, first-team all-district and honorable mention all-state.

"Jon's athleticism will enable us to extend our pick-up point on defense," Majerus said. "His best attribute, however, may be the ability to transition running the floor."

Entering this season, Majerus had a 21-year career mark of 438-162 and never had a losing season.

He has taken 11 teams to the NCAA tournament and one team, Utah in 1998, to the national championship game. The Utes lost to Kentucky 78-69.

"Majerus is a great guy and a great basketball mind," Smithsaid. "He's a very straightforward coach, which is great. He loves to be around the game of basketball and it's great to be around someone who loves the game that much. It gets you excited to play for him."