The Maryland big man was projected to have a ceiling of a late-lottery pick, but James Jones struck again.
In another surprise of all surprises from James Jones and the Suns’ front office on draft night, Phoenix nabbed Jalen Smith, the Maryland sophomore big man, at No. 10.
After early surprises including the Cavaliers taking Isaac Okoro at No. 5 and the Pistons taking Killian Hayes at No. 7, the Suns scooped up Smith despite more widely praised players like Devin Vassell and Tyrese Haliburton still being on the board.
As a sophomore at Maryland, Smith averaged 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds a night in addition to 2.4 blocks. He also shot 36.8 percent on 3.6 three-point attempts per 40 minutes for the Terrapins.
Many will compare this pick to the No. 11 selection last year after the Suns traded down, when they picked Cameron Johnson. It remains to be seen whether, after a promising rookie season from Johnson in which the Suns were largely proven right on him and his hip injury concerns, that James Jones and this front office have earned the benefit of the doubt in their evaluations.
Either way, it means the Suns will be leaning heavily on their current wing and guard rotation after not taking a player at that position in this year’s draft.