Jalen Smith shoots ball during Maryland game
As a fellow native of the DMV area, Jalen Smith studied Kevin Durant‘s basketball career closely. So with a possibility of ending up on the Nets — who possess the No. 19 overall pick — when the 2020 NBA Draft tips off Nov. 18, Smith did not shy away from what becoming a teammate alongside Durant would mean.
“Just being able to play with KD, that’s a dream come true,” Smith said on a Zoom video conference call with reporters — via the New York Post’s Brian Lewis — referencing the Washington, D.C., native and 10-time All-Star forward. “Obviously, growing up, watching him so much and pretty much just learning from him — being the same size as him — just being able to get so much from him that he’s done in the league and continue to work and just compete against him would be tremendous and a good thing for me and my skills.”
A Baltimore native and five-star recruit for the 2018 class, Smith went to Mount Saint Joseph High School and subsequently attended Maryland. Through two seasons with the Terrapins from 2018-20, Smith averaged 13.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks over a 64-game career.
Among other teams, the 6-foot-10 power forward said he interviewed with the Nets — one of his first. Since then, the Nets have parted ways with former head coach Kenny Atkinson and hired successor Steve Nash, but much has stayed the same as assistant Jacque Vaughn stayed on and general manager Sean Marks continues to lead the franchise’s front office.
“Yes, Brooklyn Nets were probably one of my first interviews I had,” Smith said. “They’re a great organization. I liked all the coaches. They were fun and up front with me, and even joking with me a lot. It was pretty much (everybody), a lot of people, I would say the GM and coaches.”