The night before Oklahoma State was blistered at Baylor, Cowboys recruits Marcus Smart and Phil Forte were having a better time on the hardwood, leading their Flower Mound Marcus squad to a 49-35 win over Hebron.
It was another step on the path to defending their Texas Class 5A state title for the Marauders, ranked No. 1 in Texas and No. 15 nationally by USA Today.
Smart, a five-star prospect by Rivals.com, is a 6-foot-4 physical guard. Forte, a 5-10 three-star recruit as a combo guard, is a near-clone of Keiton Page, a comparison he welcomes.
I chatted with both after their win. Here's our conversation:
You guys seem like you have a real connection on the floor. Where does that come from?
Forte: We've known each other since third grade. Joking around, everybody calls us brothers. That's my brother. We've been through good times, bad times. When we step on the court, it kind of shows. We have that chemistry and we have that bond. We've known each other since we were little and I think it shows on the court.
Smart: We are brothers. Having that relationship and knowing each other for a long time, coming on the court there's a real chemistry there and we know where the other is at any given time, without actually seeing where he is. We have a feel that he's going to be there when we pass the ball. So far, it's worked for us.
For guys who are considered high school stars, you both play so unselfishly.
Smart: Coach (Danny Henderson) has always been telling us a quote: “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.” And that's true. With a great team, you can beat any given talent any day. That's what we try to come out here and do. We have a motto, “One Team, One Dream.” When we come out here together, we can beat anyone as a team.
Forte: We don't really care about the stats, how many points anyone scores. Whoever's hot that game, we try to get them the ball. We have several weapons on the team, which helps. We don't have to try and do everything, we have other players who can do other things. If everyone's clicking on the same day, we're much tougher than just us ourselves.
You guys are having another good season, how much do you fight the urge to hurry up and get to the playoffs?
Forte: That's what our goal has been, obviously, the prize at the end and winning a state championship. But we just want to enjoy the season. This is our senior year. This is the last time we'll play high school sports. We just want to take everything in and savor the moment, take every day one at a time and enjoy everything.
Smart: This is our last year. You only get to go through high school once, so we just want to have fun and do it right. But at the same time, there is a little urgency to get to the playoffs.
The decision to go to Oklahoma State, how did that go down and how important was it to continue playing together?