NBA Draft 2022: Jabari Smith Jr. says he’d be “surprised” if he didn’t become No. 1

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Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. could potentially be the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

But if you ask him, he would say he’ll definitely be the first choice when the Orlando Magic come around.

Former Auburn player Jabari Smith speaks with the media following pre-draft practice with the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center on June 9, 2022.
(Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“I’d be surprised if I didn’t take #1,” Smith told Yahoo Sports on Thursday. “It’s just my competitive nature mixed with my selflessness and my ability to just shoot the ball, defend multiple positions and care about winning.

“I don’t care about stats. I feel like I can help any team straight away. But I feel like I’m the first choice.”

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Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero are among the three players who could be the first overall pick. But ESPN reported the NBA draft was “increasingly firm” with Smith, Holmgren and Banchero going 1-2-3.

“The city of Orlando was really nice,” Smith told Yahoo. “They are going in the right direction. They have a new head coach, Jamahl Mosley. It was great talking to him. It was good talking to the general manager, and you can tell they are going in the right direction and the future is bright. I want to be part of it. I can’t wait.

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Smith averaged 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in his only year with the Tigers. He was named SEC Freshman of the Year and won the Wayman Tisdale Award for being the nation’s top freshman male basketball player.

Smith was a star in his high school days.

He helped the United States win a gold medal at the FIBA ​​Americas Under-16 Championship in Brazil in 2019. He was also a McDonald’s All-American and Mr. Georgia Basketball in 2021.

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The Magic will have the first pick in this year’s draft. It will be the fourth time in their history that they have had the first choice. In 2004, the last time they held the No. 1 pick, they selected Dwight Howard.

Jabari Smith of the Auburn Tigers reacts in the final seconds of the second half against the Miami Hurricanes during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on March 20, 2022 in Greenville, SC

Jabari Smith of the Auburn Tigers reacts in the final seconds of the second half against the Miami Hurricanes during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on March 20, 2022 in Greenville, SC
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Orlando finished with a 22-60 record in 2021-22.

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