Auburn coach Bruce Pearl: Rockets 'got an NBA All-Star' in Jabari Smith Jr.


(SportsRadio 610) - Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl coached Jabari Smith Jr. for his lone college basketball season and expectedly gives rave reviews of the Rockets' No. 3 overall pick.

Pearl said he believes the Rockets really helped themselves defensively in the draft by selecting Smith, LSU forward Tari Eason at No. 17 and Kentucky guard Tyty Washington at No. 29.

Pearl joined In The Loop on Friday to talk more about Smith, the Rockets' draft class and what a day in recruiting looks like for the Auburn coach.

Specifically on Smith, he can guard every position on the floor at an elite level.

According to Synergy Basketball, an analytics group, Smith guarded players 6'6 or shorter nearly half of the time and players under 6'2 more than 15 percent of the time during his freshman year at Auburn.

"You've got to be able to guard multiple positions, obviously with positionless basketball and all of that stuff," Pearl said of Smith. "A lot of guys can guard 2-4, but not many guys can keep point guards in front of him and he can. And if they do go by him, he'll catch you at the rim and he can switch off on a post and hold his ground, especially as he physically develops."

Smith, who just turned 19 in May, went to Auburn last year weighing about 197 pounds and left the program weighing about 215 pounds, Pearl said. He said Smith should be able to score through contact and physically matchup with bigs.

"He can and I think he will," Pearl said when asked if Smith could be a star in the NBA. "Let him be a great teammate first. Like, let him go in there and affect winning. He absolutely won't be afraid of the moment. He'll make relationships with his teammates. He's very confident, but he doesn't have a big head. His teammates are going to want him to succeed. He won't succeed at their expense. He'll make them better. He's just a good guy. He wants to be coached. He'll hang on your every word. He doesn't think he knows it all."

Pearl also gave his scouting reports on Eason and Washington, as someone who coached against them in the SEC.

Listen to the entire interview here.

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