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NCAA Basketball Tournament: OSU's Marcus Smart and Phil Forte are cherishing final games

Smart and Forte have been playing basketball together since they were in the third grade.
by Jenni Carlson and John Helsley Published: March 20, 2014

Oklahoma State sophomores Marcus Smart and Phil Forte have been playing basketball together and hanging out together since the third grade.

But with Smart due to enter the NBA Draft this summer, both players know their time together is nearing an end.

Not that they want to acknowledge it just yet.

“Me and Phil, we actually haven’t talked about that much,” Smart said. “I think we’re trying to save that. We’re not really trying to bring that into existence right now, because we don’t want this to be our last game right now.

“But definitely, it is bittersweet, knowing it’s the last time playing basketball with that kid. I’ve been playing with him since third grade and it’s unbelievable. That’s my brother. I’m just blessed to have him in my life.”

Said Forte: “At the beginning it was, ‘OK, this is our last season.’ Then everything’s a last. Now it’s right around the corner. We could have one game or six. We don’t know. We’re just trying to enjoy it, soak it all up and enjoy the last few days or weeks or whatever we’ve got.

“Just thinking Friday, that could be the last time we take the court, that’s so scary. For us, too, it’s a personal motivation. We just want to keep playing together.”


Rather than leave for San Diego on Wednesday, which is customary for a Friday NCAA opener, OSU made its way out West on Tuesday.

With the school on spring break, it wasn’t a difficult decision for Cowboys coach Travis Ford. And after some travel delays landed them in San Diego late Tuesday, he said he was happy it didn’t occur a day later.

The Cowboys used Wednesday to practice, but they also mixed in some free time. Some players went to the mall, while a few toured the USS Midway.

“Kind of clear our mind from distractions and get ready for the tournament,” said junior guard Brian Williams.


This has already been a storybook season for walk-on OSU center Mason Cox, who’s gone from former scout team player with the Cowgirls to guarding the likes of Kansas big man Joel Embiid.

Cox hasn’t played regularly, yet has been called on against some of the bigger post players the Cowboys have faced. Might he be needed against Gonzaga’s 7-1 center Przemek Karnowski?

“They’ve got a guy who’s almost 300 pounds and 7-foot, so yeah, maybe,” Cox said. “I marked Joel Embiid, so… you just have to be ready.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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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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