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#pounditTuesday, November 29, 2022

Draft prospect Jabari Smith draws comparison to NBA All-Star

Jabari Smith in his Auburn uniform

Nov 25, 2021; Nassau, BHS; Auburn Tigers guard Wendell Green Jr. (1) and forward Jabari Smith (10) celebrate the win against the Loyola Ramblers in the 2021 Battle 4 Atlantis at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas men’s basketball coach Eric Musselman has coached against some of the top-tier prospects in this year’s NBA Draft. As a former head coach for the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, he has an eye for identifying college players who could have great professional success.

In an interview published on Friday with Kyle Tucker of The Athletic, Musselman provided scouting reports on Duke’s Paolo Banchero, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. All three are candidates to be among the top-3 selections in this year’s NBA Draft.

Musselman compared Smith to a current NBA All-Star in his report.

“[Smith] is so unique with his ability to make shots from so deep and doesn’t need a lot of dribbles to get them off,” Musselman said.

“He can shoot over people. There’s just not a lot of guys his age or size who can shoot transition 3s off the run and catch like he can. It’s a little bit like Klay Thompson, who doesn’t dribble a lot and can be in a dead sprint, catch, plant and stick it.”

That’s high praise for Smith, who excelled in his first and only season at Auburn.

The 19-year-old was named to the Wooden All-American team, and earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors after averaging 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He also broke Auburn’s freshman record for most points in a season (576).

Smith excelled from three-point range last season, shooting 42 percent. In nine NBA seasons, Thompson has shot over 42 percent from behind the arc three times.

Smith’s ability to shoot in a similar fashion to Thompson at 6-foot-10 may be one of the reasons why he’s reportedly in the mix to be selected first overall by the Orlando Magic.

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