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Oklahoma State basketball: Decision Day looms for Marcus Smart

The good news for Smart: there is no wrong decision, because it's his decision. Still, a difficult decision.
by John Helsley Published: April 3, 2013


photo - COLLEGE BASKETBALL: OSU's  Marcus Smart poses for photos at Oklahoma State University at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Monday February  11, 2013. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: OSU's Marcus Smart poses for photos at Oklahoma State University at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Monday February 11, 2013. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman

D-Day looms for Marcus Smart.

Decision Day.

And while most assume the Oklahoma State freshman's jump into the NBA Draft to be a foregone conclusion, those in the know say the appeal of one more year at OSU is tugging at him, too.

The good news for Smart: there is no wrong decision, because it's his decision. Still, a difficult decision.

“It's a great problem to have,” said Phil Forte Sr., the father of Smart's teammate Phil Forte and a family friend familiar with the options Smart is carefully weighing.

Very soon, perhaps Friday, Smart and his family and Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford will sit down and discuss the player's future.

They'll address the pros and cons of Smart's staying and going. There will be questions and answers. There will be emotions.

And eventually there will be a decision. Either return for one more run with his 'Boys, or get on with the next stage of his career in the NBA.

“It's exciting,” Ford said a few weeks ago. “Either way, it's going to be exciting. I've had good friends in the profession call and tell me I'm going to be so happy either way.”

Many would argue there's only one logical verdict, considering the lofty draft projections attached to Smart, which suggest he'll go high, perhaps even No. 1 if Orlando or New Orleans win the lottery. With that comes status and prestige and guaranteed millions — upward of $10 million over two years for last year's top pick, Kentucky's Anthony Davis.

So, how do you pass that up?

What a lofty draft status and big paycheck do not guarantee: success or opportunity.

Some of last year's top picks have struggled not only to perform, but to just get playing time.

Former Kansas star Thomas Robinson, the 2012 Big 12 Player of the Year and a consensus All-American — like Smart — has already been traded this season and is averaging 4.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 14 minutes off the bench with the Houston Rockets. He was taken fifth overall last year by the Sacramento Kings.

North Carolina's Kendall Marshall, taken at No. 13 and seen as the heir apparent to Steve Nash in Phoenix? Barely plays. UConn's Jeremy Lamb, taken at No. 12, eventually landed with a good team, traded from Houston to Oklahoma City in the James Harden deal. The reward: a shuttle to the D-League in Tulsa.

How do those examples relate to Smart? By comparison, last year's draft class is considered significantly stronger than the 2013 pool, perhaps artificially inflating the value of those pegged for the top.

One Eastern Conference executive told The Oklahoman that “Smart could probably benefit from another year in college. He's not yet polished as a point guard.”

Smart's first season at OSU was his first as a full-time point guard. There's no doubting his impact as a player and a leader, as he transformed the culture with the Cowboys, led them in scoring, led them to 24 wins and led them back to the NCAA Tournament.

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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