Former Texas Tech guard Zhaire Smith has been hovering around the top 15 in many NBA mock drafts. However, with the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery in the rear-view mirror, Sports Illustrated has Smith just outside the lottery spots in its latest mock draft.
SI’s mock draft has Smith going No. 17 to the Milwaukee Bucks. Sports Illustrated is high on Smith’s raw potential and athleticism, but thinks drafting him would be a gamble:
“The Bucks have been no stranger to big swings in the past, and Smith would qualify. One of the draft’s bigger home-run swings, he’s a jaw-dropping athlete without much of a résumé, nor much feel for creating his own offense on the perimeter. He certainly passes the eye test, and has gone from unknown prospect to a virtual lock somewhere in the first round. He could become a high-flying two-way contributor, or he could flame out quickly.”
A relatively unheralded high school prospect, Smith exploded onto the scene in his freshman year at Texas Tech. Smith averaged 11.3 points and 5.0 rebounds in his lone season with the Red Raiders, displaying shocking athleticism throughout the year.
Smith declared for the NBA Draft after the season, and on April 17 decided to sign with an agent and forgo the rest of his college eligibility. Smith has been ranked as a consistent first-rounder ever since, indicating that his decision will be vindicated.
If Smith does indeed go in the first round, he’ll be the highest Texas Tech player drafted since Tony Battie went No. 5 overall in 1997. At the least, he should be the first Red Raider to be selected since Andre Emmett was taken No. 35 by the Seattle SuperSonics in 2004.