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The following is a release from Auburn Athletics.
AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn freshman Jabari Smith was selected to the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 Watch List on Tuesday. The list is comprised of 50 student-athletes who are the early front-runners for the most prestigious honors in college basketball, the Wooden Award All-American Team, and Most Outstanding Player Award.
Smith is one of only nine freshmen on the list, and he’s one of eight players honored from the SEC, which has the second-most selections of any conference.
When Smith arrived at Auburn this summer, he did so as the highest-rated signee in the program’s history. He was ranked No. 4 nationally by Rivals and No. 5 by 247 Sports and ESPN. As a senior at Sandy Creek High School last season, he averaged 23.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game and was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Georgia. He also became the fourth player in Auburn history to be chosen as a McDonald’s All-American.
The accolades have followed Smith to the Plains as he was voted Second Team Preseason All-SEC by the league’s coaches and was named to the Karl Malone Award Watch List. On Monday, he made the watch list for the 2022 Naismith Trophy.
Smith will make his Auburn debut Tuesday night when the Tigers open the 2021-22 season against Morehead State. The 6-foot-10 freshman recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds in Friday’s exhibition win over Southern Indiana.
Players not chosen to the preseason list are still eligible for the Wooden Award midseason list, late-season list, and the National Ballot. The National Ballot consists of 15 top players who have proven to their universities that they meet or exceed the qualifications of the Wooden Award.
Nearly 1,000 voters will rank in order 10 of those 15 players when voting opens prior to the NCAA Tournament and will allow voters to take into consideration performance during early round games. The Wooden Award All American Team will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round of the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the 2022 John R. Wooden Award will be presented by Wendy’s following the NCAA Tournament in April.