The hype surrounding Arkansas Razorbacks freshman Nick Smith Jr. continues to build. Even after the talented freshman has only played five minutes this season.
Heading into the 2022-23 NCAA season, Smith was expected to be the top freshman point guard in college basketball. NBA draft analysts have considered Smith a favorite to be a top five selection in the 2023 draft class.
Eleventh-ranked Arkansas (6-1), one of the country's top teams, has a plethora of talent. But the team has been without its top recruit for the majority of the season. Smith missed the first six games out of precaution over his right knee. But on Monday night, Smith made his collegiate debut. He played five minutes, but it was a huge step in the right direction for the point guard.
With Smith looking to rev up his minutes, NBA scouts will be watching the Razorbacks closely in the upcoming games. Here's a look at why Smith could still be one of the top players in college basketball.
Arkansas freshman Nick Smith Jr. still buzzing in NBA draft circles
Nick Smith Jr. has the tools to be a potential franchise point guard at the NBA level. Listed at 6-foot-5, Smith has the size and versatility to be a force on the offensive side of the ball.
Despite missing the first six games of the season, there's still plenty of time for Smith to cement himself as one of the top players. The Arkansas Razorbacks, with a roster that has plenty of NBA prospects, have started to find their groove as of late. Their only loss came to Creighton, now ranked No. 7, by a 90-87 score on Nov. 22.
Smith is expected to be paired with talented freshman Anthony Black to give Arkansas one of the nation's top backcourts. With Black's playmaking ability and Smith's scoring upside, the duo should be a dangerous threat to opponents. Once that happens, Smith should become a popular name in NBA draft circles once again.
Smith was the third-ranked prospect in ESPN's high school basketball rankings. The NBA continues to look for ball handlers who can score at multiple levels with size. That's just what Smith can offer at the next level.
The Razorbacks are set to play San Jose State on Saturday. That could be an opportunity for the team to let their freshman star finally get some extended run.
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