Ranking the Contenders: Jabari Smith
Jabari Smith quickly ascended the Rivals150 last spring after breaking out on the travel circuit with the Atlanta Celtics. Beforehand, he was an oft-discussed prospect with oodles of talent who boasted impressive bloodlines; his father, Jabari Smith Sr., left his mark on the game after starring at LSU and then playing in the NBA for several years.
However, there is a fair chance that the younger Smith will have an even better career thanks to the progress that he has made and the need for someone with his talent and skillset. Smith is not an explosive athlete, but he is good enough. Where he excels is with his shot-making abilities, versatility on the defensive end and impressive intangibles.
While the bluebloods are just beginning to show heavier interest and a commitment does not seem near, a number of regional powers have continued to make Smith a top priority this summer.
Three-Point Play: Michigan State, predictions, Marquette
2022 Rankings: Top 75
Smith is Auburn's top target in the 2021 class. He could immediately step in and become the face of Bruce Pearl’s bunch if Sharife Cooper were to leave after the season. Even if Cooper did not depart for the NBA, that may even give the Tigers an even better chance since Cooper and Smith are familiar with each other and playing next to a point guard of Cooper’s talent would probably be a strong selling point. There may not be a clear-cut favorite in Smith's recruitment but if there is, it's Auburn.
Tennessee is the only program so far that has hosted Smith on an official visit, and the visit opened his eyes with how welcoming of an environment Knoxville is and how much weight the Vols put into development. Tennessee made headway with Smith's visit to Knoxville and if a commitment must be made without visits taking place, it would only work in the favor of the Vols.
Anthony Edward’s decision to play his college ball at the home-state Georgia program was noticed far and wide, but that was especially true around the Peach State. Georgia's top prospects saw that they wouldn't necessarily have to go far from home to star in college and, with Edwards’ NBA Draft stock remaining solid entering the summer and the ongoing pandemic, it's fair to wonder if that could translate to Smith remaining in-state and picking the Bulldogs. Time will tell but, if not, it won’t be because Tom Crean didn’t invest the right amount of time into recruiting the top-five prospect. Georgia will be rebuilding for another year but the Bulldogs would be primed to make a leap in the SEc during the 2021-22 campaign, potentially Smith’s first year on campus.
There is a strong chance that Smith plays at an SEC program next fall, as evidenced by the first three teams on the list, and he could very easily follow in his father's footsteps and sign with LSU. The Tigers have not invested as much time in the 2021 class up to this point due to the program's continued work on its roster for the upcoming season. While Smith has often said that his decision will be his and no one else’s, his heart could pull him a little harder to LSU thanks to his father’s connections to the program.