Jalen Smith, homegrown star for the Maryland Terrapins since 2018, is officially a top-10 NBA draft pick.
Smith, better known to fans and his teammates as "Stix", was chosen by the Phoenix Suns with the 10th-overall selection on Wednesday night. He went one pick after the hometown Wizards selected Deni Avdija.
Smith was a five-star recruit out of Baltimore when he came to the Terps in 2018, and he immediately shined on the court with Bruno Fernando. After Fernando left for the NBA Draft, Smith stepped up as the Terps' best big man, and one of the best players in all of college basketball.
He appears to be a terrific fit with the Suns' young core. He'll slide in next to former top overall pick DeAndre Ayton, who is stylistically similar to Fernando. The Suns were one of the hottest teams in the Orlando bubble when the NBA restarted over the summer, and they also added Chris Paul to pair with Devin Booker in the backcourt.
This looks like one of the most fun teams in basketball entering the 2020-21 season, and Smith's style of play as a floor-spacing power forward who can block shots, shoot three-pointers and catch lobs should be a perfect match.
Rumors swirled that Smith may go as high as the lottery, but few expected a top-10 pick. This is exciting news for head coach Mark Turgeon, who expressed his pride for Smith and point guard Anthony Cowan earlier in the day.
It was also exciting for another Terp already in the NBA, shooting guard Kevin Huerter. Of course, Huerter probably would have preferred to see Smith join him in Atlanta.
Wednesday was already going to be one of the most exciting nights in Smith's life, regardless of where he was drafted. But going in the top-10, to an exciting, up-and-coming team, makes it that much sweeter.