Auburn true freshman Jabari Smith is one of three Southeastern Conference players named to the watch list for the Karl Malone Award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced on Thursday.
The annual award recognizes the top power forward in Division I men's college basketball and is named after 2010 Hall of Famer and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Karl Malone. The award is in its eighth year and selects one of 20 players out of a pool selected by a national committee of top basketball personnel.
"The Basketball Hall of Fame is proud to annually recognize the best student-athletes in the collegiate game with positional awards bearing the names of some of the greatest players of all time," said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
To be named to the watchlist of the Naismith Starting Five is a great honor and I know our Hall of Famers sincerely enjoy the opportunity to watch these players compete. We thank Mr. Malone for his unwavering support over the years and the unique perspective he brings to ultimately selecting a winner."
Smith is one of just two freshmen named to the watch list alongside Duke's Paolo Banchero. In Smith's senior year at Sandy Creek High School, the 6-foot-10 power forward averaged 23.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game while on his way to being named a Naismith First Team All-American and the program's fourth McDonald's All-American.
The 5-star was ranked as the No. 4 national recruit by Rivals and the fifth-highest recruit on 247/Sports and ESPN. In what will prove to be his first of many awards, just this week, Smith was named to the Preseason Second All-SEC team.
The original group of 20 players will be cut to 10 in late January and then limited to just five players in late February. A single winner of the five finalists will be chosen in March when the final players are presented to Malone and the Hall of Fame's selection committee in an official ceremony.
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Fans can play their part by participating in fan voting for the award presented by Dell Technologies in each of the three rounds.
Some of the previous winners of the award have gone on to keep their name in headlines even after moving on from the college basketball scene: Drew Timme, Gonzaga, 2021; Obi Toppin, Dayton, 2020; Zion Williamson, Duke, 2019; and Deandre Ayton, Arizona, 2018.
Smith and the rest of the Tigers will be seen for the first time by the public in an orange-and-blue scrimmage set for Oct. 29 with the first game of the season scheduled just one week later when the Tigers host Southern Indiana for an exhibition game. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CST.
2022 Karl Malone Award Watch List
Azoulas Tubelis, Arizona
Jabari Smith, Auburn
David Roddy, Colorado St.
Paolo Banchero, Duke
Drew Timme, Gonzaga
Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana
Kenneth Lofton Jr., Louisiana Tech
Eli Scott, Loyola Marymount
Darius Days, LSU
Donta Scott, Maryland
DeAndre Williams, Memphis
Dawson Garcia, North Carolina
EJ Lidell, Ohio State
Quincy Guerrier, Oregon
Trevion Williams, Purdue
John Fulkerson, Tennessee
Tre Mitchell, Texas
Isaiah Mobley, USC
Jayden Gardner, Virginia
Keve Aluma, Virginia Tech
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