Maryland big man Jalen Smith spoke with the Wizards in a pre-draft interview held over video conference months ago, as NBC Sports Washington first reported. It turns out that interview really stuck with him.
The Wizards are his hometown team and he left his meeting with a positive impression of both the front office and his potential fit on the roster.
"I had an interview with the Wizards. I would say they were one of the most interesting interviews out of all of them. They were funny and they were pretty much just joking around with me the whole time," Smith said.
It sounds like they hit it off. There may also have been a strategy to keeping the conversation light, as the Wizards tried to gauge different elements of his personality.
Smith added he is staying in D.C. while working out for the draft, and he drives by Capital One Arena en route to the gym. He was born in Virginia and played in nearby College Park for the Terps.
The Wizards would, in many ways, be a homecoming for the All-Big Ten selection.
"If I get picked by the Wizards, it would be a great experience because I've always played close to home. My parents have been able to come to every game and they would be able to come to every game if I was picked by them," Smith said.
Smith said he paid attention to the Wizards growing up and is familiar with John Wall and Bradley Beal's games. But he actually rooted for the Lakers as a kid and there was one major reason for that.
"Kobe Bryant is one of my favorites. I always looked up to him just growing up a Lakers fan and watching him," Smith said.
"He was pretty much the one that gave all the kids in my generation [the example] to work hard for what you wanted. Ever since then, you just always follow Kobe Bryant and make sure that you are working hard."
In addition to the Wizards, other teams Smith has interviewed with include the Spurs, Raptors, Suns, Nets and Bulls.