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What they’re saying about Baltimore NBA draft picks Jalen Smith and Immanuel Quickley

Wednesday night was a big one for Baltimore basketball.

Two prospects from Charm City were picked in the first round of the NBA draft, with former Mount Saint Joseph and Maryland star Jalen Smith going No. 10 overall to the Phoenix Suns and former Kentucky and John Carroll standout Immanuel Quickley getting selected No. 25 overall by the New York Knicks.

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In total, four prospects with Maryland ties were picked in the top 25. Former Dayton star Obi Toppin, who spent a postgraduate year at Mount Zion Prep in Prince George’s County, was selected No. 8 overall by the New York Knicks, while former DeMatha and Sidwell Friends standout Saddiq Bey ended up with the Detroit Pistons after being taken No. 19 overall.

Here’s what draft experts and analysts are saying about the two former Baltimore standouts, Smith and Quickley:

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Jalen Smith, Phoenix Suns, 10th overall

Sam Vecenie, The Athletic: “Smith is the first player drafted that I had a second-round grade on. He’s a good shooter with terrific shot-blocking instincts. He is a pogo stick leaper who made All-Big Ten. Unfortunately, he’s also just very stiff and struggles to move laterally. The Suns will need to do some significant work with his flexibility in order for him to defend in space, which is a worry for a pick used in the top-10 on a big man.”

John Hollinger, The Athletic: “Any time you can use a lottery pick to get a backup-caliber player at the league’s least valuable position, you have to go ahead and do it. Smith can shoot and has some shot-blocking capability, but I had him 31st on my board. This is a head-scratching pick with so much perimeter talent available.”

Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer: “The Suns clearly don’t believe in draft ranges, that’s for sure. A year after shocking the NBA draft community by taking Cam Johnson at no. 11, they did it again with Smith, who was ranked no. 17 on The Ringer’s big board. ... Shot-blocking centers with legitimate 3-point range aren’t quite as unusual as they used to be, but players like Smith are still fairly uncommon. The question is how much he can play as a power forward next to Deandre Ayton. Otherwise the Suns just used a top-10 pick on someone who can only play 15 minutes per game on their roster.”

Jonathan Givony, ESPN: “The Suns shocked the NBA world in passing on top five-pick candidate Tyrese Haliburton for Maryland product Jalen Smith, who nevertheless represents a solid positional fit on a team that could use another stretch-4 option. Smith moved up draft boards rapidly in the pre-draft process with his length, soft shooting touch and rim-protection prowess.”

Gary Parrish and Kyle Boone, CBS Sports: “I thought I liked Jalen Smith more than most, but I had him in the late-teens. But not in the top 10, and not on a team that already has DeAndre Ayton. He’s more of a stretch five than a stretch four, and that’s simply not a position of need or a great value. But Phoenix does have a history of doing things that don’t make a lot of sense.”

Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated: “There were certainly teams who were optimistic about his long-term future — Smith is a talented shooter for his size and also a capable shot-blocker, a combination of traits that are always in demand. But his physical stiffness and limited mobility was concerning for a number of scouts. The Suns already have a long-term center in Deandre Ayton, which suggests they view Smith as someone who can play power forward, which is a disputable presumption in a league where teams are playing smaller and faster. Phoenix could well be vindicated here, but this fit is questionable based on what we know right now.”

Ricky O’Donnell, SB Nation: “The 6′10 big man had an awesome sophomore year for Maryland, blossoming into an All-American. He’s certainly not an elite shooter like [Cam] Johnson, but Smith is a solid floor spacer who should get plenty of open looks with Devin Booker and Chris Paul running the show. Smith’s issue is that he isn’t super quick or a great leaper, which limits his defensive impact. Johnson certainly had a nice rookie year for the Suns, so maybe Smith will surprise, too. This feels like a major reach, though.”

Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks, 25th overall

Sam Vecenie, The Athletic: “The skill here is that he’s an absolutely elite shooter. ... He’s also an absolutely elite character kid. The big concern here though is that he’s an undersized guy to play the 2 at the next level, and he’s not a monster athlete. He’s going to have to be absolutely elite at flying off of screens and firing with a quick release.”

John Hollinger, The Athletic: “Quickley is an absolute shocker, a good shooter but undersized and not much of an athlete. I’m not sure anybody had him in their top 40, and one wonders if the Knicks overrated him based on the Kentucky connections in their front office.”

Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer: “Few projected Quickly as a first-round pick, but perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that a Kentucky guard with a knockdown jumper went higher than expected after Tyler Herro’s success last season. The problem is that Quickley’s not the typical Kentucky guard when it comes to size or athleticism. There are a lot of 6-foot-3 shooting specialists floating around the college basketball world. But none of those guys are being taken in the first round.”

Jonathan Givony, ESPN: “Few expected Kentucky guards Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley to be drafted too close together, a strong indication of the premium NBA teams put on perimeter shooting, which happens to be Quickley’s biggest strength. An excellent defender as well as an outstanding teammate, Quickley’s decision-making and versatility make him a strong candidate to play alongside the ball-dominant RJ Barrett.”

Gary Parrish and Kyle Boone, CBS Sports: “He’s the reigning SEC player of the year and shot 42 percent from 3-point range, but this is nearly 30 spots higher than I expected. His upside just does not match this place in the draft, but he could be a good shooter if nothing else.”

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Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated: “Quickley was not a widely projected first-rounder, but was viewed as a serious sleeper by some teams, and the presence of former Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne on the coaching staff and William Wesley in their front office points to some of the thinking here. My understanding here was that Quickley did wonders for his draft stock over the past month, putting on remarkable shooting displays for several teams behind closed doors. Knicks fans may walk away slightly confused, but from my perspective, this is a nice bet by New York.”

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Ricky O’Donnell, SB Nation: “For all of Quickley’s shooting skill, he struggles to create off the dribble, get to the rim, and defend stronger and faster players. Desmond Bane would have been a better pick as a 3-and-D prospect at this spot.”

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