Charles Barkley exalts defense of Auburn basketball players Jabari Smith, Walker Kessler

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TNT broadcaster Charles Barkley appeared on the "Bald Men on Campus" podcast with ESPN's Jay Bilas, LaPhonso Ellis, and Seth Greenberg.

Barkley, who played college basketball at Auburn from 1981-84, discussed a range of topics including Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl, center Walker Kessler, and radio broadcaster Sonny Smith.

Maybe the highest praise that Barkley espoused was for Auburn men's basketball forward Jabari Smith.

The 6-foot-10, 220-pound Smith is averaging 15.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.4 steals and one blocked shot per game for Auburn so far this season.

Charles Barkley praises Auburn's Jabari Smith

Auburn Athletic Director Allen Greene talks with former Auburn player Charles Barkley as Auburn Tigers take on Georgia Bulldogs at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala., on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022.
Auburn Athletic Director Allen Greene talks with former Auburn player Charles Barkley as Auburn Tigers take on Georgia Bulldogs at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala., on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022.

Barkley started talking about Jabari Smith when Bilas asked him, "What do you think of Jabari Smith so far?"

"He's got a great shooting touch," Barkley said. "He's got a great motor — probably a little bit too much of a motor. I try to calm him down, 'You can't help us sitting on the bench.' He's so active he's in foul trouble. ... But I tell you, I just love his motor. I love his shooting touch. He's made for today's game. Today's game, you got to be able to guard multiple positions, because teams don't play defense anymore they just switch everything. ... He's a two-, three-, four-type guy, who can guard all those positions, and unless you've got a dominant center, he can maybe even guard a guy up to 6-9, 6-10, 6-11."

Auburn, ranked No. 2 in the Ferris Mowers Men's Basketball Coaches Poll powered by USA Today Sports, enters Saturday's game vs. Kentucky at 17-1 overall and 6-0 in the SEC. Most recently, Auburn defeated Georgia 83-60 on Wednesday.

Barkley attended Wednesday's Auburn game vs. Georgia after recording the interview for "Bald Men on Campus."

Charles Barkley analyzes Walker Kessler's defense

LaPhonso Ellis later asked Barkley about the importance of Walker Kessler to Auburn's hopes of winning a national championship.

"I think he's really important, because No. 1, he's the best interior defender we have," Barkley said. "Walker Kessler does a fabulous job of being 7-feet tall. And people don't understand it's hard to shoot contested shots. He goes straight up, and I love that. He's not trying to block shots and knock things in the stands. He makes you shoot over him. He's our best defender inside. But Phonz, the main thing is you never underestimate size. I've seen him get like 10 to 15 extra possessions for us, because a little guy is trying to box him out, and he keeps the ball alive. He's been a great addition."

Here's more Auburn men's basketball news:

After his career at Auburn, the Philadelphia 76ers selected Barkley fifth overall in the 1984 NBA Draft. Barkley played in the NBA from 1984-2000 with the 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and Houston Rockets.

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

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Charles Barkley says Auburn's Jabari Smith is 'made for today's game'

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