College Basketball

Arkansas guard Nick Smith Jr. declares for 2023 NBA Draft

Arkansas guard Nick Smith Jr. declares for 2023 NBA Draft

Arkansas guard Nick Smith Jr. is entering the 2023 NBA Draft and foregoing the remaining three years of his college career. The 6-foot-5 freshman appeared in 17 games with the Razorbacks this past season.

Smith, 18, averaged 12.5 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 25.8 minutes per game. Plus, the Arkansas native shot 37.6% from the field, 33.8% outside the arc, and 74% at the foul line.

Upon further review of a few college basketball betting sites, after No. 4 UConn defeated No. 8 Arkansas 88-65 in the Sweet 16 of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, sportsbooks improved the Huskies’ championship odds. Entering the Final Four, UConn is now the betting favorite to win the national championship.

“This year has been an incredible journey, and I am grateful for all the love and support I have received from my hometown and all the hog fans,” Smith tweeted on Thursday. “I want to express my gratitude to [Coach Eric Musselman] and the entire coaching staff, who believed in my abilities and allowed me the chance to play for Arkansas.”

Smith was expected to be a starting guard for Arkansas throughout the 2022-23 season. However, a lingering knee injury sidelined the freshman for the majority of the games. Smith is projected to be a lottery pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, according to sources.

In Arkansas’ 97-65 win over Georgia on Feb. 21, the guard scored a season-high 26 points in 29 minutes as a starter. Along with tallying one board and a pair of assists, Smith shot 9-of-14 (64.3%) from the floor and 5-of-8 (62.5%) beyond the arc.

Arkansas freshman Nick Smith Jr. declares for 2023 NBA Draft, to decline remaining three years of college playing eligibility

Furthermore, Smith also played basketball for Sylvan Hills High School in Sherwood, Arkansas. During his sophomore season, he was named Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Preps Boys Underclassman of the Year. Before his senior year, Smith transferred to North Little Rock High School.

The guard led the Charging Wildcats to a 26-3 record and the Arkansas Class 6A State Championship. As a consensus 5-star recruit in 2022, he was then selected to participate in the McDonald’s All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic, and Nike Hoop Summit.

Per 247Sports, the guard ranked No. 1 overall in the nation for the Class of 2022. Smith received other offers from Kansas, Alabama, Auburn, and Georgetown. Last January, basketball analyst Travis Branham of 247Sports provided his scouting assessment on the Arkansas native.

“Nick Smith is an aggressive, confident and dynamic combo guard with good size and long arms for the position. He’s a functional athlete with downhill speed, body control and fluidly changes speed and direction with the ball in his hands.

“Offensively, he has an impressive combination as a playmaker and as a scorer, with his playmaking ability being unlocked by his aggressive and confident demeanor as a scorer.” Branham also compared the standout to Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray. Is the Arkansas recruit ready for the NBA? Scouting experts think so.

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