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Andy Wittry | | June 23, 2022

Jabari Smith: College basketball stats, best moments, quotes at Auburn

Jabari Smith's 2022 NCAA tournament highlights

Before Jabari Smith was selected third-overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2022 NBA draft, he kicked off his college career as a freshman at Auburn. Here's what you need to know.

On Jan. 24, 2022, Auburn's men's basketball program reached No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time in school history, amid a 19-game winning streak for the Tigers that saw them reach 22-1 in February. Auburn's star freshman forward Jabari Smith was a major reason why as he led the team in scoring and ranked second in rebounding in his first and only season of college, which made him one of the top prospects entering the 2022 NBA Draft.

Here's everything you need to know about Jabari Smith's college career at Auburn.

The vitals for Jabari Smith

School: Auburn
Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-10
Weight: 220 pounds
Years active: 2021-22
NCAA tournament record: 1-1
Career averages: 16.9 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, 2.0 assists per game, 42.0% 3-point shooting

Season Games FG FGA FG% Points Rebounds Assists Steals
2021-22 34 5.4 12.6 .429 16.9 7.4 2.0 1.1

How tall is Jabari Smith?

Smith was listed at 6-foot-10 as a freshman at Auburn, where he played the "four" alongside starting center Walker Kessler, one of the best shot-blockers in the country who was listed at 7-foot-1.

What kind of player was Smith in high school?

According to his 247Sports recruiting profile, Smith was ranked as the No. 7 player in the 2021 graduating class, as well as the No. 2 power forward and No. 1 player in Georgia. In December 2020, the eventual McDonald's All-American was projected by 247Sports Director of Basketball Scouting Jerry Meyer as a future top-10 pick in the NBA draft who Meyer compared to Jaren Jackson of the Memphis Grizzlies.

What was Jabari Smith's record in college?

Auburn went 28-6 in the 34 games Smith played as a freshman, including a 19-game winning streak from late November to early Feburary, when he helped the Tigers reach No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time in program history.

What is Jabari Smith's offensive game like?

Jabari Smith has a super-smooth shooting stroke โ€” see his 42-percent 3-point percentage โ€” and that's largely what made him such a good college player and such a coveted prospect entering the NBA draft. At 6-foot-10, he's capable of shooting over almost any defender, and he has a quick release to boot. Given his production on the perimeter, opposing big men will have to guard him beyond the arc or else risk giving him an open 3-pointer.

Listed at 220 pounds while playing for Auburn, Smith was pretty agile and he provided the Tigers with a dangerous, modern forward while playing alongside 7-foot-1 center Walker Kessler. Many of Smith's touches were limited to one or two dribbles so the next evolution of his game might be improving his shot creation for himself and others.

You can watch Smith's highlights from the 2022 NCAA tournament below.

Jabari Smith's 2022 NCAA tournament highlights

What were some of Jabari Smith's best games?

Here are some of Smith's best performances in college:

No. 19 Auburn 89, Syracuse 68 | Nov. 26, 2021

In the fifth-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis, Auburn demolished Syracuse and the Orange's 2-3 zone defense as Smith showed off his long-range shooting stroke, going four for eight from outside as he scored 22 points with six rebounds and four assists. The Tigers dropped their opening game in the Battle 4 Atlantis to UConn, 115-109 in double overtime, but they won their next 19 games.

No. 4 Auburn 81, No. 24 Alabama 77 | Jan. 11, 2022

In his first game against rival Alabama, all Smith did was score what was then a season-high 25 points on just 14 shots, while making three of his six 3-point attempts, getting to the free-throw line 10 times and finishing with seven rebounds, four blocks and two steals on the road.

No. 2 Auburn 94, Vanderbilt 80 | Feb. 16, 2022

Smith scored a season-high 31 points on just 16 shots and in only 28 minutes in a win over Vanderbilt. He showed off his smooth 3-point stroke as he made seven of 10 3-pointers โ€” three more 3-pointers than he made in any other game all season. This performance kicked off a nine-game stretch to end the season in which he scored in double figures every game.

Florida 63, No. 2 Auburn 62 | Feb. 19, 2022

In a rare loss for the Tigers, Smith scored 28 points on the road against Florida thanks to his 10-for-11 free-throw shooting performance. It was his second-most free-throw attempts in a game for Auburn (he went 12 for 12 against UConn) and he finished the season as an 80-percent shooter at the stripe โ€” a very good number, especially for a big man.

No. 2 seed Auburn 80, No. 15 seed Jacksonville State 61 | March 18, 2022

Making his NCAA tournament debut, Smith had a 20-point, 14-rebound double-double on a 6-of-13 shooting performance, while also throwing down one of the best dunks of the entire tournament.

What awards did Jabari Smith win in college?

Here are some of the awards and distinctions that Smith earned at Auburn:

  • USBWA Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Year
  • NABC Division I Freshman of the Year
  • AP All-America Second Team
  • NABC Division I All-America Second Team
  • USBWA All-America Second Team
  • The Sporting News All-America Second Team
  • Sports Illustrated All-America First Team
  • SEC Freshman of the Year
  • All-SEC First Team
  • SEC All-Freshman Team
  • Preseason All-SEC Second Team
  • John R. Wooden Award finalist
  • Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award finalist
  • Naismith Men's Player of the Year Award semifinalist
  • Six-time SEC Freshman of the Week

What records did Jabari Smith set in college and where does he rank among historical greats?

Jabari Smith set the following records and ranks highly on numerous all-time lists:

  • 1st in Auburn history in All-America honors: Six
  • 1st player in Auburn history to be named SEC Freshman of the Year
  • 1st in Auburn history in 3-pointers made by a freshman: 79
  • 2nd in Auburn history in 20-point games by a freshman: 14
  • The only freshman in the SEC to rank in the top 10 in scoring and rebounding
  • The only freshman in the country with at least 500 points, 200 rebounds and 60 3-pointers

If you take Smith's per-game averages from the 2021-22 season and round down โ€” 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and one block โ€” there have been 171 individual player seasons since the 1992-93 season where a player has posted those averages, or an average of 5.7 per season. The players who have averaged 16/7/2/1 include Duke's Zion Williamson in his freshman season, Blake Griffin in his sophomore season at Oklahoma, Memphis' Penny Hardaway as a junior, Wake Forest's Tim Duncan in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, Michigan's Chris Webber in his sophomore season and Frank Kaminsky in his senior season at Wisconsin.

What did people say about Jabari Smith?

The Montgomery Advertiser's Bennett Durando, after Auburn beat UL-Monroe: "The five-star recruit brought up the ball himself several times. The 6-foot-10 forward is a skilled ballhandler โ€” he went behind his back in transition once to make a defender fall down โ€” and Pearl isn't afraid to let him run the offense sometimes. Smith finished with 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting (3-of-5 from outside) and 10 rebounds."

The Montgomery Advertiser's Bennett Durando, after Auburn beat Syracuse in November 2021 to conclude the Battle 4 Atlantis: "This was the five-star's first test against quality competition, and he delivered. Smith averaged 19.3 points per game. Against UConn and Syracuse, he was a combined 12-for-30 from the field, settling for unwise jump shots a few times. Against Loyola, he was 7-for-9. Smith made four 3-pointers and was called for a technical after one of them for taunting in the direction of coach Jim Boeheim. The freshman's shot selection consistency needs to mature a bit, but he showed his confidence as a big time play-maker on a big stage."

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, after Auburn beat Loyola Chicago in the Battle 4 Atlantis in November 2022 (courtesy of the AP): "Jabari, I think, showed he's the best player here."

The AP's Aaron Beard after Auburn beat Loyola Chicago: "Smith, a 6-foot-10 froward, made 7 of 9 shots. That included some back-to-the-basket work and turning around to shoot over a defender, something the top recruit and NBA prospect showed fluidity in doing. He made a couple of key baskets in the final minutes: a turnaround in the lane over a defender near the five-minute mark and then a turnaround shot over Lucas Williamson for a 58-51 lead with 2 minutes, 27 seconds left."

The Montgomery Advertiser's Bennett Durando, after Auburn beat Nebraska in December 2021: "It's fitting that Smith's first college return to his hometown was in an NBA arena, the home of the Atlanta Hawks; one year from now, the 6-foot-10 forward will be making a lot of money playing in such venues. Smith's audience Saturday included (Kevin) Durant, one of the sport's greatest. Auburn's highest-ranked recruit in history delivered with a tone-setting 3-pointer to start the game, and he cruised to 12 points by halftime."

The AP's Mark Long, after Auburn beat Missouri in January 2022: "Despite a season-low in points -- he ended a streak of 16 games scoring in double figures -- Smith remains a consensus top-five projected pick in the upcoming NBA draft if he decides to turn pro. He has a legit chance to be the school's highest selection in program history, ahead of Chuck Person (fourth in 1986) and Chris Morris (fourth in 1988)."

Then-Florida coach Mike White (courtesy of the AP): "He's a special talent. He's 6-10 and he's a two guard. He's got a beautiful stroke. He's efficient. Gets to his spots. He's got an ability to raise up with a high release to separate a little bit in the air. Can kind of twist a little bit, go right, go left. He's just advanced. It seems like mentally he's kind of a step ahead of where he should be at that age. He's a really good player."

Pearl, in January 2022 (courtesy of the AP): "I knew he was a great jump shooter; I just didn't know he was going to be the best jump shooter I ever coached. And he wants to get better."

The Montgomery Advertiser's Bennett Durando in January 2022 on why Smith could potentially be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft: "First, I think he's looking more and more like a better two-way player than (Duke's Paolo) Banchero. Smith's learning curve has been impressive. He has a fundamentally sound defensive stance that puts his length and mobility to use, allowing him to guard on-ball against different types of attackers. He has a lean lower body with room to put on more muscle, which should assuage scouts of any concern about his ability to take bumps from NBA bigs."

Pearl, after Auburn beat Oklahoma in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge (courtesy of The Montgomery Advertiser): "We had an advantage in the front line, and we took advantage of our advantage. Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler were dominant."

Pearl, after Smith scored a season-high 31 points in a win over Vanderbilt (courtesy of The Montgomery Advertiser): "It's the best frontcourt I've had anywhere. ...These guys are the best I've ever had."

The Montgomery Advertiser's Bennett Durando, after Auburn's win over Vanderbilt: "At no point this season has Jabari Smith lacked the confidence or swagger of a future top NBA draft pick, but Wednesday night in Auburn Arena he shot with a verve unlike anything the venue has ever seen."

Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr. (courtesy of The Tennessean): "Jabari Smith, he took a lot of tough shots but he made them and his teammates fed off of that, the crowd fed off of it. And no lead is too large for them. We had a good lead and they came back real fast."

Florida guard Tyree Appleby (courtesy of USA TODAY NETWORK): "That man, he's nice. We just wanted to make it tough for him all night."

Florida coach Mike White (courtesy of USA TODAY NETWORK): "I wouldn't have guessed that we would have won a game with Jabari getting 28. He was the focal point defensively of everything we were trying to do, didn't do a great job on him ... but I thought we did a very good job on the other guys as a whole. Jabari was ridiculous."

Pearl, after Smith's highlight dunk against Jacksonville State in the first round of the NCAA tournament (courtesy of USA TODAY NETWORK): "It's going to be on 'SportsCenter' tonight. Isn't that every kid's dream? He postered him. He really did."

Jabari Smith quotes

Smith, after Auburn beat UL-Monroe (courtesy of The Montgomery Advertiser): "I put in the work; I put in that work over the years. [Auburn coach Bruce Pearl] is going to let you be yourself. BP is going to let you shoot."

Smith, after Auburn beat Loyola Chicago in the Battle 4 Atlantis (courtesy of the AP): "I would just say it's getting me ready for more big games. Every game in the SEC is going to be tough, it's going to be challenging. So just playing against stronger competition, playing against tougher competition shows where we are and shows how together we are. And I enjoy it."

Smith, after Auburn beat Oklahoma following a narrow victory against Missouri in Auburn's first-ever game as the No. 1 team in the AP poll (courtesy of the AP): "Knowing how we played against Missouri, we were just ready to bounce back."

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