Updated: Apr 1
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present Jabari Smith, Jr., from Tyrone, Georgia:
Pro Insight: Describe your game. What are your strengths?
Jabari Smith: I say I’m a stretch four, but I can play the three. I think I can play any position. I think my strongest advantage is at the four. I’m fast, I can shoot. I can dribble. My strengths are shooting and being able to handle the ball. I’m versatile, can play in the post, and my rim protection while being able to guard all positions.
PI: Where are your biggest areas of improvement?
JS: I can improve on my strength and getting my body better. My foot quickness and my overall motor. Getting more versatile overall
PI: What do you need to do to improve your motor?
JS: It’s a mindset going into every game. The mindset to dominate every game. My dad says “don’t be afraid to get tired.” Exert everything you can, get subbed out, and come right back in.
PI: What are you doing to work on the other areas?
JS: I’m trying to do a lot of reps in the weight room with lighter weight to build tone. I know the weight will come later as I get older. Working on my overall body. For footwork, I’m in the sandpit during the offseason or doing ladders. I jump rope a lot. When we do sprints in practice I try to always come in first and push myself.
PI: What’s the most underrated part of your game?
JS: I think it’s my defense. I think I’m a good defender, but my motor has to improve. I think this season, I’m showing that I’m a better defender, I can protect the rim, and guard 1-5.
PI: What did you learn from your experience at USA Basketball in Brazil?
JS: Playing for something. With a meaning. For your country. Also, not everything is going to go your way. The food was so different down there, so we didn’t eat a ton. We had to adjust. They play a different style with the shot clock and other things, so we really had to adjust to that. Also, playing on a team where everyone is just as good as you, and some are better. Everyone is at such a high level, so you have to do things to separate yourself to stand out in a game. It comes down to doing whatever it takes to help your team win.
PI: Talk more about your experience with food down there?
JS: It was just different. The places close to us, some guys didn’t really love, so the coaches would let us go to some burger places or pizza places every now and then.
PI: What’s your favorite food overall?
PI: Who were you closest with on Team USA in Brazil?
JS: Dillon [Hunter]. He’s from Georgia too, so I knew him before we got there. I really got close to everyone though. We became a family and really bonded. Everyone else there was speaking a different language, so we had to stick together. I roomed with Dillon.
PI: Who was your funniest teammate?
JS: It would probably have to be Chris Livingston. He’s a clown. Greg Glenn is funny. Everyone was pretty funny, honestly.
PI: What did you do off-the-court from your time with Team USA?
JS: We’d all go to eat together or go to someone’s room and mess around. Some guys liked to rap, so we’d do that. There was a game system downstairs too. We’d go down there and play or chill down there sometimes.
PI: What did you learn off-the-court from your time with Team USA?
JS: Learning how to pass the time and adjust to a different environment. We had to learn how to adjust to the different culture. Sometimes, you can think about how you want to go home, but fighting through that, and staying positive. Being with twelve guys in that situation, you have to open up and get to know people. Overall, just being more vocal and learning about different situations and cultures.
PI: You’ve been to a couple mini-camps with Team USA, how were those experiences?
JS: I went to the Final Four mini-camp in April, which was my first one. I was 15 and didn’t really know anyone. I kept to myself most of the time. When I went to the tryout [for Brazil] I saw some people I knew from the last one and got to know new people. Then, when I came back in October, everyone knew me and it was way easier. I had friends there and got to compete. It’s more fun to compete with people you know. It was pretty cool.
PI: You have some time to figure it out, but as you think about playing in college, what factors are most important to you in terms of choosing a school?
JS: What system and play style fit me, and which place will put me in the best position to succeed.