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Auburn’s Bruce Pearl tears down Chet Holmgren before 2022 NBA Draft


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Auburn men’s basketball head coach Bruce Pearl did an interview Wednesday on the “McElroy and Cubelic within the Morning” radio show ahead of the 2022 NBA Draft on Thursday. 

Pearl had high praise for Auburn players Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler entering the NBA Draft. He also praised Duke product Paolo Banchero.

His words weren’t so kind for Gonzaga 7-footer Chet Holmgren, who’s the projected No. 2 pick by USA Today

Pearl’s comments about Holmgren got here in response to Greg McElroy asking him who he’d take No. 2 after Jabari Smith. Pearl went with Banchero.

Bruce Pearl criticizes Chet Holmgren’s body

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“Chet’s intriguing, but so was Shawn Bradley,” Pearl said referring to the Philadelphia 76ers No. 2 overall pick within the 1993 NBA Draft.

The 7-foot-6-inch Bradley played within the NBA from 1993-2005, but he never made an NBA All-Star team. He led the NBA in blocked shots in 2000-01, and he was top five in blocked shots seven times.

“The NBA stands for No Boys Allowed,” Pearl said continuing to discuss Holmgren. “And that body scares me. It just does. He goes knee-to-knee with the fallacious guy, and he could get broken in half. Subsequently on the very top of the draft, I believe I got to go together with what I do know not what could potentially could possibly someday be.” 

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl on the sidelines against Arkansas during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

Holmgren is 7 foot and 195 kilos. He averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists at Gonzaga as a freshman in 2021-22. 

Smith is 6-foot-10 and 220 kilos. Kessler is 7-foot-1 and 245 kilos.

Bruce Pearl praises Jabari Smith’s jump shot

Prior to Pearl talking about Holmgren, Cole Cubelic asked Pearl to discuss how Jabari Smith competes behind the scenes. 

“I do not think there is a concern there,” Pearl said of Smith’s competitiveness. “I believe the query speaks to, I believe, the No. 1 reason why you are taking him No. 1. Absolutely the jump shot is the very best from any man his size within the last 10 years in college basketball — all of the approach to KD (Kevin Durant) possibly. That is pure and that translates. That is productivity instantly. 

“The second thing is he can guard one through five, because he does compete defensively,” Pearl continued about Smith. “The No. 1 reason is the child doesn’t lose. That is No. 1. He doesn’t lose.” 

Bruce Pearl compares Walker Kessler to Al Horford

USA Today projects Walker Kessler to be the No. 25 pick within the 2022 NBA Draft. Here’s what Pearl said about Kessler on Wednesday.

“He’s an incredible athlete,” Pearl said. “People don’t discuss his athleticism, his speed, his quickness, his ability to maneuver laterally — obviously his ability to raise. And he isn’t 7-foot. He’s 7-1 and slightly bit. And an inch and a half make an enormous, big difference. So obviously, he’s in a position to impact the sport. I assumed he was probably the most impactful player in college basketball last yr, due to what he did on the rim each offensively and defensively.”

Pearl talked about Kessler for a few minutes, and he ended by comparing him to Boston Celtics forward and former Florida Gators national champion Al Horford together with NBA centers Brook and Robin Lopez.

“I believe he’ll be a dominating 3-point shooter at the subsequent level,” Pearl said of Kessler. “Al Horford never made a 3 at Florida, never made a 3 at Florida, and he’s considered one of the higher stretch fives within the NBA at his age. Walker is ahead of him. He could possibly be like considered one of the Lopez twins — an element on the rim and an element on the 3-point line.”

Here’s more Auburn basketball news: 

The Orlando Magic have the No. 1 pick within the 2022 NBA Draft. The draft is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. CT on Thursday, June 23. 

Erik Hall is the lead digital producer for sports with the USA Today Network. You’ll find him on Twitter @HallErik

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