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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Rockets Select Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason in 2022 NBA Draft

Posted: June 23, 2022 -- 10:34 p.m.

During tonight's 2022 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets selected forward Jabari Smith Jr. with the third overall pick and forward Tari Eason (TAR-ee) with the 17th overall pick.

Smith (6'10", 220) was an early entry candidate following his freshman season at Auburn. Smith averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks along with 2.3 3-pointers made on 42.9% shooting. Smith earned consensus second-team All-American honors and was named National Freshman of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).

Dating back to 1992-93, the 19-year-old joined Kevin Durant as the only freshmen to have averaged at least 16.0 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game and 2.0 three-point field goals made per game while shooting 40.0% or better from behind-the-arc. Over that same span, Smith was one of four freshmen to have averaged at least 16.0 points per game, 7.0 points per game, 2.0 three-point field goals made per game and 1.00 blocks per game. Smith hit at least one 3-pointer in each of the final 29 games of the season.

Last year, the Rockets selected NBA All-Rookie First Team member Jalen Green with the second overall pick. The last time Houston selected players in the top-three in consecutive drafts was in 1983 with Hakeem Olajuwon (No. 1) and in 1984 with Ralph Sampson (No. 1) and Rodney McCray (No. 3). Prior to tonight, the last time any team selected players in the top-three in consecutive drafts was when Boston, Philadelphia, and the Los Angeles Lakers all did so in 2016 and 2017.


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Eason (6'8", 216) was an early entry candidate following his sophomore season with Louisiana State after beginning his collegiate career at Cincinnati. Eason averaged 16.9 points on 52.1% shooting for the Tigers, up from 7.3 points per game on 46.2% shooting as a freshman and became the first player in SEC history to be named Sixth Man of the Year while also earning All-SEC First Team honors. Over the final 17 games last season, Eason averaged 18.4 points per game while shooting 42.9% from 3-point range.

In 2021-22, Eason was one of four players to have averaged at least 16.0 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game, 1.50 steals per game and 1.00 blocks per game. Eason recorded multiple steals in 20 of his 33 games played and was one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award.

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