Maryland’s Jalen Smith declares for NBA draft

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Jalen Smith is leaving Maryland for the 2020 NBA Draft.

The sophomore forward known as “Stix” announced his decision on Tuesday.

Over the last month of the season, not many players in college basketball were more productive than the 6-foot-10 sophomore. Smith put up 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 block per game. Shooting 53 percent from the field and 36 percent from three-point range, Smith was efficient as well. With 60 blocks and 30 made threes this season, Smith was the only player in college hoops with that distinction.

Somehow, in Big Ten conference play, Smith accumulated even better overall numbers. In the deepest and toughest league in the country, Smith averaged 16.8 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game in Big Ten contests. Smith’s field goal percentages also increased to 56 percent from the field and 41 percent from three-point range. It’s a big reason why Maryland was one of the Big Ten’s regular season champions.

The Big Ten production Smith showcased is exactly the reason many peg him as a first-round pick. Smith is the coveted prospect who can erase shots at the rim while also being skilled enough to stretch the floor from three. It’s also a strong sign that Smith increased his production as a sophomore. Freshman season, Smith was a solid contributor for Maryland. The team also had veteran big man Bruno Fernando as the team’s go-to option in the post. But with Fernando gone this season, Smith stepped up his production and became a force.

Currently projected as the No. 19 overall pick in the first round of CBT’s latest 2020 NBA mock draft, Jalen Smith could work his way into the lottery with a strong pre-draft process. Not many players in the draft can erase shots and shoot threes and Smith also has a proven track record of being successful for two college seasons.