NEW YORK – The day is lastly right here. The 2022 NBA draft is 8 pm Thursday and, in the event that they hold the choose, all indicators level to the Magic deciding on Auburn’s Jabari Smith at No. 1 general.
Smith, a 6-foot-11 ahead, performed one season at Auburn and head coach Bruce Pearl is aware of precisely the type of participant the Magic are getting in the event that they take him with the primary choose.
“What makes him No. 1? For his measurement, he is one of the best leap shooter I’ve seen in school in over 20 years,” Pearl informed Yahoo Sports activities. “He is about as prepared, so far as a one-and-done, than I’ve ever seen and he’s going to make Orlando win.”
Smith has been touted as one of the best taking pictures massive on this draft with a formidable 42% mark from deep at Auburn. Orlando desperately wants assist from past the perimeter, connecting on simply 33% of their 3-point makes an attempt final season.
“His method to the sport and his mentality is like nothing I’ve seen earlier than,” Pearl informed Yahoo Sports activities. “You possibly can’t be that good of a leap shooter with out the psychological toughness to need the shot, to take the shot and consider it is stepping into each time it leaves your hand. It is the identical ball flight, it is the identical rotation each single time . And that is what the nice ones have. “
Smith did not enter the season with the identical NBA hype as Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero, however he was on scouts’ radar. Pearl knew Smith was gifted and knew he had an ideal participant, but it surely was after a double-overtime loss to UConn on the Battle 4 Atlantis match when Pearl knew Smith may go No. 1 within the draft. Smith completed with 22 factors, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“That UConn recreation modified all the things,” Pearl informed Yahoo Sports activities, shaking his head. “That is once I knew and actually needed to inform myself, ‘OK, this one is completely different.’ All he did was construct on it from there. All through your entire season, I had one of the best participant on the court docket each single evening in Jabari Smith. “
If Smith does hear his title referred to as first, he would be the first participant to be the No. 1 choose in Auburn program historical past.
“Auburn was house for me and nonetheless is house so it will be a giant deal to put in writing my title in historical past without end,” Smith informed Yahoo Sports activities.
“If you stroll into our locker room, one of many first belongings you see on the wall is an indication that claims, ‘Make historical past,'” Pearl informed Yahoo Sports activities. “We put that up years in the past as a result of there was nice historical past custom of Auburn basketball and I wished guys to come back to Auburn to attempt to add to that historical past. Making the Remaining 4 in 2019, being one of the best group within the nation this previous season for a month. These issues are historic. Jabari, probably being the primary No. 1 choose in class historical past … man, it is simply what we’re right here to do. We’re right here to win championships and we’re right here to get the fellows from right here to there [the NBA]. “
Pearl might be on the Barclays Heart and can shine just like the proud coach he’s. Auburn heart Walker Kessler can also be projected to go within the first spherical, so it is a massive evening for Auburn basketball.
In years previous, it’s been a unique SEC program and head coach who take the highlight within the inexperienced room with a number of first-round picks and the potential No. 1 general choose. John Calipari and Kentucky have had three No. 1 picks within the final 12 years. It’ll be a quieter yr with only one potential lottery choose in Shaedon Sharpe (who didn’t play a single minute at Kentucky) and combo guard TyTy Washington, who’s a projected late first-round choose.
Pearl isn’t one to shrink back from the cameras, however insists he is taking a step again and letting Smith’s household benefit from the second.
“I will keep as distant from the digital camera as potential,” Pearl informed Yahoo Sports activities, whereas laughing. “For me, it is all the time about seeing grandma and seeing mother and pa. His highschool and AAU coach, you already know? I actually wish to watch them get pleasure from it and actually it is about them, it is about their household.”
If Smith is chosen by the Magic, he could be becoming a member of one other Auburn participant, Chuma Okeke, one thing Pearl may be very enthusiastic about.
“I ought to be capable of get a reasonably good seat,” Pearl informed Yahoo Sports activities, laughing. “I suppose I am going to name [general manager] John Hammond and say, ‘What do you suppose, John? Are you able to assist a brother out? ‘ “
On Wednesday, Smith appeared very calm and relaxed. One thing uncommon for a participant about to be drafted to the NBA in lower than 24 hours. “I am prepared and I am excited,” Smith informed Yahoo Sports activities. “I be ok with wherever I am going and I am able to get to work.”
Smith adopted up with Yahoo Sports activities senior NBA insider Chris Haynes, saying he’d be shocked if he did not go No. 1. “It’s simply my aggressive nature combined with my unselfishness and my capability to simply shoot the ball, defend a number of positions and care about successful,” Smith mentioned. vI do not care about stats. I really feel I may also help any group instantly. However I really feel I am the No. 1 choose. ”
All indicators level to the Magic taking Smith, and Pearl is assured he’ll have an extended, profitable profession in Orlando.
“Jabari is humble, he is hungry and he is an extremely laborious employee. He will be an NBA All-Star,” Pearl informed Yahoo Sports activities. “It is the mix of confidence, preparation and toughness and need to win that separates him from everybody else. And I imply everybody else. There is no one higher on this class. “