Auburn added a potential superstar to its 2021-22 roster Friday when Jabari Smith announced his commitment to the team.
Smith chose the Tigers among a group of six finalists that consisted of North Carolina, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU and Tennessee, per Travis Barnham of 247Sports.
"They play very free," Smith said regarding Auburn in comments made to Barnham on his top-six choices days before the announcement.
"I think they’re a very good defensive team, so I think that will bring out the defensive part of my game that people don’t really see. I feel like they always play with long active wings and forwards so I think that will be a good fit for me. They also just talk about how I would fit in their play style."
The Georgia native is regarded as one of the most exciting prospects in the 2021 freshman class. He is a 5-star recruit and the No. 5 overall player in the country, per 247Sports composite rankings. Per Nathan King of 247Sports, Smith is also the highest-ranked recruit in Auburn men's hoops history.
"He now has good size for the position to go with a still extremely physically immature frame with plenty of room to gain strength," per 247Sports' Josh Gershon. "While Smith has a jump hook and can post up, he is most comfortable facing up. He has a smooth stroke with range to the perimeter. Improving athletically and as a passer. Rebounds area well and has made progress as rim protector."
Gershon compared Smith's skills to Houston Rockets forward Robert Covington.
Already standing at 6'10" with a 210-pound frame that can fill out as his body physically matures, he has immediate impact potential because of his ability to score from anywhere on the court.
The versatility Smith offers the Tigers in two seasons will make them one of the most dangerous teams in college basketball. He's also got the ability to add even more diversity to his game thanks to his raw athleticism, passing skills and size at the rim to create problems for opponents.
In six seasons with the Tigers, Bruce Pearl has transformed them into a national powerhouse capable of competing with anyone for elite talent.
It's a testament to Pearl's ability as a recruiter and coach that he's taken this program to the heights it's reached. Prior to his arrival in 2014, the Tigers had just one winning record and zero NCAA tournament appearances in the previous seven years.
Auburn advanced to the Final Four two years ago for the first time in school history. The team was set up for another deep tournament run last year before the tournament was canceled.
Looking ahead to the 2021-22 season when Smith arrives on campus, the Tigers are set up to challenge the best programs in the SEC, like Kentucky and Tennessee, with more than enough talent to go deep in March.