MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Former Auburn University forward Jabari Smith Jr. was selected with the No. 3 overall pick to the Houston Rockets in the 2022 NBA Draft Thursday night.
Smith Jr. becomes the highest overall pick in Auburn basketball program history and fourth consecutive first-round selection for head coach Bruce Pearl’s Tigers program. The program produced two No. 4 overall picks — Chuck Person (1986) and Chris Morris (1988). Between 2009 and 2019, the program did not produce a drafted player.
“This is something I have been dreaming about since I was five years old,” said Kessler when discussing his selection with the ESPN desk. “I told my friends I wasn’t gonna cry but being with my dad [Jabari Smith], I had to let it out.”
Smith Jr. told the ESPN desk he has already spoken with Rockets General Manager Rafael Stone and plans to talk to guard Jalen Green. Smith said he is eager to get to Houston as, “[The Rockets] are a young team with a young core,” but he plans to show up ‘hungry’ and ‘ready’.
Davion Mitchell was selected ninth overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2021, Isaac Okoro was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the fifth overall pick in 2020 and Chuma Okeke, who was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the 16th pick in 2019.
In his freshman season, Smith Jr. averaged 16 points along with 7.4 rebounds and two assists per game while playing 28.8 minutes per contest. In 34 games played, Smith Jr. registered a 42.9% from the field, shot 42% from the three-point line while shooting 79.9% from the charity stripe.
“You’re going to get someone who is a hard worker, someone who is going to come in with a chip on his shoulder, someone who doesn’t care about stats, but I am someone who doesn’t like to lose.”Jabari Smith Jr.