In the lead-up to the NBA Draft on June 21, BSN Denver is taking an in-depth look at prospects the Nuggets might target in the first round. Each draft profile will be accompanied by a podcast available on BSNDenver.com and wherever you normally download your podcasts from. To submit questions for the podcast, reply in the comments section at the bottom of this story.
Zhaire Smith — Guard — Texas Tech
NBA Role: Glue guy with all-star potential if he learns how to dribble
Player Comparison: Shorter, bouncier Andre Roberson
Zhaire Smith dunked a basketball for the first time in eighth grade. The Garland, Texas, native was still in middle school when he completed the act anyone who laces up a pair of basketball shoes aspires to. Since then, the 19-year-old has committed hundreds of assaults on the rim.
Smith’s 41 1/2-inch max vertical is one reason why he’s gone from unheralded college basketball recruit to potential NBA lottery pick in about a year’s time. Smith wasn’t even ranked among Rivals’ Top 150 players. On Wednesday, Sports Illustrated predicted he’d go 17th overall to the Milwaukee Bucks in its latest mock draft.
“It’s crazy how things can change in one year,” Smith said after a pre-draft workout with the Nuggets on Wednesday. “But with all the hard work I’ve put in, I’m not that surprised. It’s a blessing to be in this position.”
Of all the dunks Smith’s thrown down in his career, the 360 alley-oop he pulled off in the NCAA Tournament Round of 64 game against Stephen F. Austin is his favorite.