Marcus Smart’s return to Oklahoma State was obviously a major coup for the program, setting the Cowboys up as a Big 12 and national contender.
And the benefits keep coming.
Smart’s presence makes the Pokes better.
And makes the program more visible.
And makes the program more appealing to recruits.
And Smart’s decision, coach Travis Ford says, makes a statement about what’s going on at OSU.
“There’s some excitement around the program and recruits feel that,” Ford said. “We had a good year last year. We were on TV a lot and won some big games. That always helps.
“The biggest thing is, you’ve got a guy who would have been a top-three pick in the NBA Draft, probably No. 2, and he decides to stay. So I think recruits and recruits’ parents look at that and say, ‘Hey, y’all must be doing something right over there, y’all must be treating them right for him to say I want to stay.’
“It’s not like he didn’t need the money or he’s set.”
Within Smart’s decision, Ford says, is a confirmation that OSU is a good place to be, for basketball and more. Currently, the Cowboys have three commitments, including two four-star high school recruits. And Ford and Co. remain in the hunt on several of the nation’s other top talents.
“That’s one of the biggest things,” Ford said, “when you’ve got a guy like that who says, I love it enough and I enjoy playing for coach Ford, I like my teammates enough, I like going to school at Oklahoma State enough that I’m going to wait on my money.
“Not passing it up. Some people (say), ‘I can’t believe you passed it up.’ As he would tell you, ‘I didn’t pass it up. I pushed it off for a year.’ Then something good must be going on. And everybody knows it.
“‘Man, how’d you get Marcus Smart to stay?’ You need to ask him. Don’t ask me. Ask him, and he’ll quickly tell you, ‘I love going to school there. I like playing for Coach. I believe in what we’re doing. I had fun. I learned a lot and I’ve got a lot more I need to learn.’
“That’s as good a testimony as you can get.”