2021 five-star forward Jabari Smith Jr (Sandy Creek, Georgia) will make his college decision Oct. 9 at 5:10 p.m. EST, according to 247 Sports.

Smith is listed at 6-10, 210 lbs and the consensus five-star is Auburn’s highest ranked target in 2021. He listed Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, North Carolina and Tennessee as his six finalists. According to Dan McDonald of Rivals, Auburn, Tennessee and Georgia have the best chances.

Smith last visited Auburn Feb. 22 and talked to AU Hoops News about his interest in Auburn during September’s Summer Jam in Rock Hill.

Auburn seems to have a good chance, but Smith’s other finalists all have arguments that can be made in their favor.

Auburn

  • Auburn is a great fit for Smith when it comes to playing style and proximity to home. Smith is a stretch big man who can defend multiple positions, shoot and handle the ball. In interviews, Smith has also mentioned players similar to him and from his area who had success at Auburn and Auburn’s ability to improve his defense a things he likes about the Tigers. Auburn was one of the only two schools to host Smith for an official visit in 2020 before the pandemic.

Tennessee 

  • Tennessee seems like Auburn’s biggest threat at this point. Tennessee commit Kennedy Chandler said he wants to recruit Smith to Tennessee with him, and many said Tennessee led for Smith earlier this year before Auburn seemed to retake the lead this summer. I don’t know if Tennessee’s system fits Smith as well as Auburn’s, but it would be a good fit and likely has many of the same attractions.

Georgia 

  • Georgia has recruited Smith as long as anyone and has the instate advantage, despite being roughly the same distance from Smith’s high school as Auburn is. Georgia held the only crystal ball or future cast prediction Smith had when he announced his decision date, but Dan McDonald has since switched that pick to Tennessee and then to Auburn. Auburn also received projections from Travis Branham and Jerry Meyer on 247, Adam Zagoria on Twitter, Travis Graf on Rivals and others.

The rest:

Georgia Tech is the hometown school and has recruited Smith for a long time. Despite the recent lack of success, Georgia Tech seems to hold a favorable spot with Smith but doesn’t seem like a major contender. 

Smith’s dad (Jabari Smith Sr) played at LSU and still seems to be a fan of his alma mater. However, Smith never officially visited LSU. A family connection and a school with elite recruiters makes it hard to count out LSU, but most media members seem to be leaving them out of the perceived top three.

In July, Corey Evans said Smith’s recruitment could get shaken up if North Carolina offered. North Carolina offered shortly after that, but it didn’t seem like the Tar Heels picked up much more momentum than that. If they are a former dream school, they could still have a shot.

How I’m feeling:

The timing on Smith’s decision seems like it could be in Auburn’s favor. Based on what I heard from our friends at The Jboy Show, Auburn coaches were confident in their chances of landing JD Davison until he moved up his commitment date. A few days after Davison chose Alabama, Smith announced a somewhat surprise commitment date. That makes me hopeful Auburn made or is making a late push. Smith also played on an AAU team coached by Jared Harper’s dad.

After setting his commitment date, Jared Harper and Sharife Cooper engaged with Smith on social media.

Smith was drawing G League interest and rumors at one point, but Tipton Edits said the G League is not currently an option.

I try not to trust predictions until a day or so before a commitment, and some of these were early enough where they can still be changed, but it seems like Auburn has most of the momentum right now. If everything stays as is, Friday could be a good day for Auburn basketball. 

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