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Kessler and Smith Honored On NBA All-Rookie First and Second Teams

The former Auburn Tigers were taken in 1st Round of the 2022 NBA Draft

NEW YORK, New York — Auburn men's basketball alum Walker Kessler and Jabari Smith were both honored on the 2022-23 Kia NBA All-Rookie First and Second Teams, as announced by the NBA on Monday.

A center for the Utah Jazz, Kessler earned a spot on the first team along with the Orlando Magic's Paolo Banchero, Indiana Pacers' Bennedict Mathurin, Sacramento Kings' Keegan Murray and Oklahoma City Thunder's Jalen Williams.

Kessler was third in first team voting with 95 votes and a finalist for the NBA Rookie of the Year Award averaging 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game for the Jazz. He became the first rookie in 25 years to record at least four games of 7+ blocks, trailing Tim Duncan's five times in 1998, and the first Jazz rookie to ever record a 30-point, 10-rebound game.

Smith, a power forward for the Houston Rockets, garnered second team honors alongside teammate Tari Eason, the San Antonio Spurs' Jeremy Sochan as well as the Detroit Pistons' Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey.

He averaged 12.8 points, 7.2 rebounds per game and shot 40.8 percent from the field. Smith, who is 19 years old, became the first teenager in NBA history to record three-straight 20-point, 10-rebound games. He was the also the first Rockets rookie to accomplish that feat since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984.

Kessler and Smith, who were members of Auburn's 2021-22 SEC regular-season championship and NCAA Tournament squad, are now a part of an elite group of former Tigers to be named to the NBA All-Rookie Team next to Charles Barkley (1985), Chris Morris (1989 – Second Team), Chuck Person (1987), Wesley Person (1995 – Second Team), Marquis Daniels (2004 – Second Team) and Isaac Okoro (2021 – Second Team).


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