Auburn's Jabari Smith's versatile skillset makes him a potential top 3 pick
A rising star in college basketball that many consider to be a top 3 pick in the upcoming 2022 draft, Jabari Smith looks to be the next big name to come out of Auburn.
Jabari Smith, a 6’10, 220 lbs power forward from Sandy Creek High School was the highest rated commit in Auburn basketball history. On his commitment to Auburn, Smith said that, "I think they’re a very good defensive team, so I think that will bring out the defensive part of my game that people don’t really see." In high school, he was the 6th ranked prospect by ESPN and 7th by 247 in a strong class that included Paolo Banchero, Patrick Baldwin Jr., Emoni Bates, and Chet Holmgren. Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina were among some of the offers that Smith received. Smith was a member of the 2019 USA U16 National Team that ended with a 6-0 record that resulted in a gold medal in Belém, Brazil. Out of those six games, Smith started three and averaged 13.8 ppg. with 6.2 rpg.
The versatile forward averaged 23.4 ppg on 56% shooting, 9.5 rpg, 3.2 spg and 2.5 bpg during his senior year where he was able to lead Sandy Creek to a 28-4 record, and a runner-up finish in the state championship. He had a high school career full of accolades as he was named All-Fayette second team as a sophomore, and a McDonald's All-American, Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year and Sports Illustrated All-American second-team as a senior.
Through his first seven games, the young forward is averaging 16.9 ppg, and 7.1 rpg shooting an impressive 44% from the 3pt line on five attempts per game. Smith seems to be most comfortable working from the post as he can get to his mid-post turnaround jumper while also being able to face-up and shoot over his defender. Dribbling is one of his flaws on offense, however he is able to take the ball to the basket on little dribbles. At 6’10 he is in great shape, being more than able to get up and down the court on fast breaks creating easy points in transition. One aspect of his game that sets him apart from his competition is nice shooting touch. On spot up shooting, Smith is shooting 40.7% along with a noteworthy 83% from the free throw line.
Along with an imposing offensive skill set, he has elite perimeter defense which he credits to his father, Jabari Smith Sr’s, 6 am jump roping sessions when he was younger. Smith has been exceptional in isolation situations as his opponents have not made a shot with a 0% field goal percentage. Rim protection is not something he excels at, however his frame alone gives him potential to be a major rim protecting threat.
Although the college basketball year has just started, Jabari Smith has shown that he has the potential to be a difference maker on a NBA roster. Smith and Auburn are set to play programs like Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee this year giving Smith the chance to show he is a big moment player. I am excited to see a Jabari Smith vs Oscar Tshiebwe matchup in January. Smith will be an exciting player to keep an eye out for.