Contributed by AU
Auburn freshman Jabari Smith was named to the 2022 Karl Malone Award Watch List, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Thursday.
Named after Class of 2010 Hall of Famer and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Karl Malone, the annual honor — now in its eighth year — recognizes the top power forwards in Division I men’s college basketball. Smith is one of 20 candidates on the watch list, which was determined by a national committee of top college 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 two freshmen on this year’s watch list, along with Duke’s Paolo Banchero. As a senior at Sandy Creek High School last season, the 6-foot-10-inch Smith averaged 23.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. He was a Naismith First Team All-American and became the fourth player in program history to be named a McDonald’s All-American.
In the class of 2021, Smith was ranked No. 4 nationally by Rivals and No. 5 by 247 Sports and ESPN, making him the high-rated signee in the history of Auburn basketball. Earlier in the week, he earned Preseason Second Team All-SEC honors.
In late January, the watch list of 20 players for the 2022 Karl Malone Award will be narrowed to 10 and then in late February to just five. In March, the five finalists will be presented to Mr. Malone and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee where a winner will be selected. College basketball fans are encouraged to participate in Fan Voting presented by Dell Technologies in each of the three rounds.
Previous winners of the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award include Drew Timme, Gonzaga (2021); Obi Toppin, Dayton (2020); Zion Williamson, Duke (2019); Deandre Ayton, Arizona (2018); Johnathan Motley, Baylor (2017); Georges Niang, Iowa State (2016); and Montrezl Harrell, Louisville (2015).
Smith will make his Auburn debut on Nov. 5 when the Tigers host Southern Indiana for an exhibition game beginning at 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