For the first time in seven years, a former Maryland men’s basketball player has been selected as a lottery pick.
Forward Jalen Smith was taken No. 10 overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2020 NBA Draft Wednesday night.
Smith is the fourth former Maryland men’s basketball player drafted over the last three years, following in the footsteps of Kevin Huerter, Justin Jackson and Bruno Fernando.
He was projected to go anywhere from 13th overall to the later end of the first round, but instead has cemented himself as a top-10 pick. And coincidentally, Smith goes to the same franchise Len was drafted by.
The Baltimore native was named a third team All-American and a unanimous First Team All-Big Ten selection after averaging 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game for the Terps as a sophomore last season. The 6-foot-10 forward shot 53.8% from the floor and 36.8% from three-point range, while also putting up the third most double-doubles (21) in the nation.
Many expected Smith, who was a five-star recruit out of high school, to enter the draft after his freshman season, but he elected to return to College Park after the team suffered a heartbreaking defeat against LSU in the final seconds of their game in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Though he and the Terps didn’t get their shot at March Madness redemption due to the coronavirus pandemic, the decision certainly paid off, with Smith increasing his draft stock to land as a lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
Smith joins a high upside squad in Phoenix, which just added All-Star point guard Chris Paul earlier this week.