Five-star power forward Jabari Smith has all the tools to excel at the next level. The Auburn signee has size, an outside shot, length, athleticism, and a bloodline of NBA experience, considering his father played at a powerhouse SEC school.
The 6-foot-10, 210-pound hooper from Sandy Creek High School in Tyrone, Georgia — just outside Atlanta — is up there with the elite prospects of the 2021 recruiting class.
Under Bruce Pearl, Smith is looking to prove why he’s deserving of the high ranking.
Jabari Smith Jr. Highlights
Smith best operates facing up to the basket. He can take big guys off the dribble — using a pump fake to get his defender off balance — and pull up for a jumper or attack the rim. He’ll draw his defender out which opens up cutting lanes for teammates. Smith shows a keen ability to find them. Put a smaller guy on him and he’ll move down to the post. On the block, he’s not as comfortable, but he has a knack for drawing fouls.
From the outside, Smith has a reliable jumper and spatial awareness. He’s best shooting off the catch from outside but has the ability to shoot off the dribble from mid-range. From the triple-threat position, the five-star uses jabs and fakes to size up defenders before rising up. His shot has great touch.
On the defensive end, Smith protects the rim and rebounds well. He has a good nose for the ball. Leadership and developing a better motor are at the top of Smith’s priority list along with building strength.
Jabari Smith Jr. Recruiting
Smith is the fifth-ranked overall prospect of the 2021 class according to 247Sports, Rivals, and ESPN. He had scholarship offers from Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and LSU before committing to Auburn. NCAA blue bloods like Duke and Kentucky showed interest but didn’t extended offers.
LSU will always have a place in his heart because of his father. Jabari Smith Sr. played 61 games for the Tigers from 1998-2000, averaging 12.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. The Sacramento Kings selected him in the second round of the 2000 NBA Draft and he played for five seasons in the NBA with the Kings, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets. He then played professionally overseas in Spain, Turkey, Iran and Puerto Rico.
“Huge impact, huge impact,” Smith told 247Sports about his father. “He grew up without a dad so he tells me stuff that he couldn’t learn as a kid. He grew up off of pure talent not of learning how to work and so he’s just been telling me how to go about it and everything.”
The power forward has experience on the international stage. He played on the USA Basketball U16 team and won a gold medal at the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. He averaged a team second-best 13.8 points per game.
Smith is expected to go high in the 2022 NBA Draft. NBADraftRoom.com ranks him as the sixth-best prospect.
Jabari Smith Commits to Auburn
Five-star prospect Jabari Smith certainly had his pick of top schools to play his college basketball. He could have gone the G-League route like several over top basketball prospects or picked the hometown Georgia Bulldogs or his dad’s alma mater of LSU.
Auburn’s 2021 class used to include four-star shooting guard Trey Alexander. The Oklahoma City native reopened his recruitment on April 22, 2021.
Following the loss of point guard Sharife Cooper to the 2021 NBA Draft, the Auburn basketball team is in need of some starpower. With the addition of Smith and UNC Tar Heels transfer Walker Kessler, the Tigers will be pairing two five-star recruits in the frontcourt.
This post was originally published on October 10, 2020 before updating.