Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Projected Top 5 Pick, Enters NBA Draft

The 6-foot-10 SEC freshman averaged 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds for Auburn.

AUBURN, Alabama (AP) –Auburn freshman Jabari Smith, who led the Tigers to their first No. 1 ranking, is entering the NBA draft.

Smith, who is projected as a potential No. 1 overall pick, lived up to his billing as the highest-rated recruit in program history. He announced his decision in a video published Tuesday on social networks.

“Auburn will forever be my home and will be a place that will be a part of me forever,” Smith said in the video. “The long hours spent in the gym and in the weight room gave me this opportunity and the chance to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA. But none of this would have ever been possible without the love and sacrifice made by my father and my mother.

“They made me the man and the person I am today, and I can’t thank them enough.”

Smith led the Tigers in scoring, averaging 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds. The 6-foot-10, 220 pounds was also Auburn’s leading 3-point shooter after making 79 of 188 attempts (43%).

All-American by consensus, Smith was named the Southeastern Conference Rookie of the Year. The Fayetteville, Georgia native was ranked the No. 5 freshman in the nation, according to 247Sports composite rankings.

Smith and 7-foot-1 center Walker Kessler made up one of the best frontcourts in the nation. Kessler, a transfer from North Carolina, had already announced his intention to enter the draft.

“I came into this season wanting to make history and give this school the recognition it deserves in basketball, and Auburn did that,” Smith said. “I also want to give a special thanks to the best coaching and support staff in the country. You all made this year a year I will never forget.

Auburn won the Southeastern Conference regular season title and spent three weeks atop the AP standings before falling to Miami in the second round of the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed.

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