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Likely first-rounder, Maryland’s Jalen Smith, declares for NBA draft

Maryland big Jalen Smith

PISCATAWAY, NJ - MARCH 03: Jalen Smith #25 of the Maryland Terrapins in action against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during a college basketball game at Rutgers Athletic Center on March 3, 2020 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Rutgers defeated Maryland 78-67. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

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Jalen Smith was Maryland’s first AP All-American in a decade.

Now, the sophomore is taking the next step – to the NBA draft.


Smith will probably go in the first round, maybe even somewhere in the middle. But he could also slip into the second round.

At 6-foot-10, Smith will likely settle in as a center in the NBA, especially as he continues to bulk up. He’s just not mobile enough to consistently defend power forwards. Heck, his defense in space will still be a concern at center. That’s a flaw that can make bigs unplayable in the modern NBA.

Otherwise, there’s plenty to like about Smith.

He can run pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops, developing into a quality 3-point shooter this season. He has even show ability to shoot on the move from distance.

Smith doesn’t pass much, and his ball-handling forays are uninspiring. But he makes up for it with active screening, on and off the ball.

He checks all the boxes with interior defense. Smith blocks shots and rebounds well, putting his leaping ability to good use on both fronts.

A productive defensive big who shoots 3-pointers? Smith won’t fall too far until a team appreciates his strengths and hopes to figure out the rest.