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Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren has been bookmarked as the first overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft ever since he made his debut this past fall.
Whether the Magic fulfill the prophecy and go with the “unicorn” — we’ll know by Thursday night shortly after 8 p.m. ET. We know who Auburn head basketball coach Bruce Pearl would select at No. 1 — Jabari Smith — the Tigers’ freshman phenom who led Auburn to a SEC regular season championship.
“What makes him [Smith] No. 1? For his size, he’s the best jump shooter I’ve seen in college in over 20 years,” Pearl told Yahoo Sports. “He’s about as ready, as far as a one-and-done, than I’ve ever seen and he is going to make Orlando win.”
Pearl would most certainly not select Holmgren, whom he has concerns about. Specifically the frame of the 7-foot-0, 190-pounder.
“Chet’s intriguing, but so was Shawn Bradley,” said Pearl, on McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning on WJOX 94.5-FM in Birmingham Wednesday. “The NBA stands for No Boys Allowed. And that body scares me. It just does. He goes knee-to-knee with the wrong guy, and he could get broken in half. Therefore at the very top of the draft, I think I got to go with what I know not what could potentially could maybe someday be.”
Like Holmgren, Bradley, standing in at 7-foot-6, was seen as a can’t miss prospect. While the Magic and Warriors played the trade game with Chris Webber and Penny Hardaway, the 76ers selected the BYU center with the second overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft.
Bradley played 12 seasons in the NBA, but never quite lived up to the billing. Bradley averaged 8.1 PPG and 6.3 RPG for his career, appearing in zero All-Star games. Holmgren, who averaged 14.1 PPG and 9.9 RPG in his lone season at Gonzaga, will look to find more consistency than Bradley did during his NBA career.