Despite an unspectacular finish in March Madness, Jabari Smith Jr. was one of the top players to watch during the college basketball season and put up highlight-reel moments throughout the season. He could hit big shots and slam big dunks in a way that many other players could not do.
Now that the college basketball season is officially over, Smith Jr. has decided to leave college and declare for the 2022 NBA Draft after a year as a member of the Tigers' program.
Jabari Smith Jr. is projected to be one of the top players in the 2022 NBA Draft, so his decision to leave Auburn for the NBA does not come as much of a surprise. Still, the way the NCAA tournament ended did give some Tigers' fans hope that the could return to try and run it back.
Smith Jr. will be competing with Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero, among others, to try to be the top selection in the draft. As the NBA season comes to an end and the draft order begins to solidify, the top selection will become more clear.
Auburn will miss everything that Smith Jr. brought to the program, but several NBA teams will be interested in selecting him in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Jabari Smith Jr.'s final season at Auburn before the 2022 NBA Draft
The Tigers are coming off one of their best seasons in the history of the program, with the team achieving its first number one ranking ever. Smith Jr. and his teammate Walker Kessler were critical to the team achieving that ranking during the regular season.
While the two Tigers' stars did not go on to have success in March Madness, they still had spectacular seasons. Both players were recognized for their regular season success at the end of the season.
In a year of firsts in the history of the Auburn Tigers' basketball program, Jabari Smith Jr. was certainly a significant part of the success that led to his individual recognition.
As he transitions to the NBA, Smith Jr.'s final season as a Tigers will be one of the great what-ifs in college basketball because of how well he played despite his team's failure in the NCAA tournament.
Regardless, Smith Jr.'s single season will go down as one of the best singles seasons in the history of the program and his transition to the NBA will be a big loss for the Tigers.
Q. Should Jabari Smith Jr. be the number one overall pick?