Houston Rockets' NBA Draft night nets them 3 SEC stars headlined by Jabari Smith Jr.

LSU's Tari Eason and Kentucky's TyTy Washington were also picked up by Houston.

Adam Winkler Image
Friday, June 24, 2022
Rockets introduce Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, TyTy Washington Jr.
Houston, we got rookies. Three first-round talents acquired on draft night were introduced to the media a day after their selections.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With another draft night behind them, the Rockets and general manager Rafael Stone are expressing satisfaction over a new crop of incoming rookies who can continue to build on a foundation already made firm by young stars who have already made an impact in Houston.

Jabari Smith Jr., the Auburn star who was seen as the likely No. 1 pick until Thursday night, highlights the three first-round talents Houston picked up during the 2022 NBA Draft.

SEE MORE: Houston Rockets make Auburn star Jabari Smith Jr. the 3rd overall pick in 2022 NBA Draft

Smith isn't alone. Houston went on to pick up a top-flight defender in LSU's Tari Eason with the No. 17 pick. The team also completed a complex three-team deal that shipped off former big man Christian Wood and brought in Kentucky point guard TyTy Washington Jr., who was selected at No. 29.

All three rookies were introduced to Houston media, with each talking about hard work as their common bond in this draft class.

Here are some post-draft notes you should know.

Christian Wood trade made official

It was known for a while that Houston's incumbent power forward, Wood, would be on the way out, but on Friday, Houston made the swap official and a bit more complex than the reported team-to-team acquisition.

Here's what the trade looks like:

  • Houston gets from Dallas: Rights to 26th pick, Duke's Wendell Moore Jr., and a player package that includes Sterling Brown, Trey Burke, Marquese Chriss, and Boban Marjanovic.
  • Houston sends to Dallas: Christian Wood.
  • Houston gets from Minnesota: Rights to 29th pick, Kentucky's TyTy Washington Jr., who was originally drafted by Memphis but traded to the Timberwolves in a separate transaction; and two future second-round picks.
  • Houston sends to Minnesota: Rights to Moore.

The trade not only brings Brown and Chriss back to Houston, it gives Stone a financial flexibility with four expiring player contracts.

Meanwhile, the Rockets bid Wood farewell with a simple message.

Wood, who went undrafted out of UNLV, gave his gratitude to the city.

"In our two seasons together, I experienced how passionate the city is and how much you love your team. I formed incredible bonds and lifelong friendships. I'd like to thank Tilman & Patrick Fertitta, Rafael Stone & Coach (Stephen) Silas for the opportunity to excel. There are memories that I'll never forget. The future is exciting for the young group and I wish my former teammates the best! I'll be tuned in, just down the road," a graphic posted to Wood's social media read.

Meet TyTy Washington Jr.

Houston addresses a need in the backcourt with Washington, a five-star recruit of the Kentucky Wildcats who was a projected lottery pick.

Moreover, the 20-year-old from the Phoenix area credited his success to his mom's strength amid diabetes.

"When the commissioner says my name, like, I can already see her right now that she's going to be first person (I will) hug, and she's going to cry," Washington told ESPN as part of his pre-draft profile.

As far as Clutch City is concerned, Washington recorded a message to fans.

"It's your boy, TyTy Washington here. Man, excited to get drafted. Houston, I'm coming, man. (Fixing) to come out there and turn the city up. Can't wait to get out there. Can't wait to see the fans and all of that. Houston, we lit," the rookie said in a video posted to the team's social media.

Meet Tari Eason

The Rockets basically covered the beginning, middle, and end parts of the first round. Smith and Washington book-ended things for Houston, while LSU's Tari Eason was chosen around the midpoint.

Eason was chosen with the No. 17 pick as a piece for the defensive end.

Outside of the ability to guard every frontcourt position, Eason also has the ability to shine, as exhibited by his Atari logo pendant and his name underneath.

"Houston, Tari's here. Happy to get to work. Ready to get to work. (I'm) excited for this opportunity. Let's get it. Go Rockets!" Eason said in a video posted to the Rockets' social media.

Jabari Smith Jr.'s jersey number revealed?

We already know that Jalen Green, Houston's No. 2 pick a year ago, sports No. 0. But how about No. 00?

It looks like Smith may be the man behind the "double oh's" as revealed by the Rockets as part of a jersey presale.

But of course, the team noted that the number may change in a future announcement.

The Rockets also posted video on Friday of Smith already putting up for Houston as he departed New York City where the draft took place.

Undrafted rookie signs with Houston

While the three picks were the moves that made noise in Houston on draft night, the Rockets made a low-key move to bring in a two-time NCAA Division II Player of the Year.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Rockets signed Northwest Missouri State guard Trevor Hudgins to a two-way contract, meaning he will be available to play for Houston and its G League affiliate, the Rio Grand Valley Vipers.

According to NW Missouri State, Hudgins is the first player in the program's history to sign an NBA contract.

Rockets will tip off NBA Summer League

WATCH: The three Rockets rookies in their own words

Clutch City, time to meet your 2022-2023 rookies. This video introduces you to Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, and TyTy Washington Jr.

Houston's drafting of Smith may have never happened without Orlando picking Paolo Banchero first overall.

So, fittingly, the two teams will be the first matchup of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, giving Rockets fans little time to wait to see what the rookies can do.

The Rockets-Magic matchup is scheduled for July 7 at 9 p.m. CT., and it will air on our sister network ESPN.

Here is the Rockets' full Summer League schedule (all times are Central time):

  • July 7: Orlando, 9 p.m., ESPN
  • July 9: Oklahoma City, 7 p.m., ESPN2
  • July 11: San Antonio, 6 p.m., ESPN
  • July 14: Portland, 8:30 p.m.

Games for the final two days of Summer League - July 16-17 - are still yet to be determined.

One of those games includes the Summer League championship matchup, for which the Rockets could be eligible to play in. That is scheduled on July 17 at 2 p.m. CT, and it airs on ESPN.

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