Blake Griffin is on record professing the benefits of a second year in school for any player. Griffin would have been a lottery pick in 2008, after his freshman year at Oklahoma. Instead, he returned, led the Sooners to the Elite Eight and won all six of the National Player of the Year awards on his way to being the No. 1 pick in '09.
“It was one of the best decisions I ever made,” Griffin told CBSSports.com recently. “It enabled me to mature and get better as a basketball player.
“If I came out after my freshman season, it would have been a different story.”
As for the money, Griffin said: “Everyone's in kids' ears for a payday. The chance to get paid and take care of your family … But it's about being ready, not necessarily about taking that big payday right away, but giving it time.
“You might drop a few spots, but you might end up with a team that's a better fit — and end up making more money in the long run.”
The Cowboys, like those Sooners, are set up to win next season; perhaps win big if Smart returns.
With him — maybe even without him — OSU looks like the clear Big 12 favorite and a top-10 team nationally.
Coming back would also allow the highly competitive Smart an opportunity to erase the bad feelings from the Cowboys' sudden NCAA Tournament loss to Oregon. Those around the program say that disappointing ending ate at him for days and even drove him to lean toward a return, although the allure of the NBA has since balanced that out.
On a personal level, Smart enjoys his teammates.
“We're a brotherhood,” he said.
He and Forte have been friends and teammates since the third grade. They are roommates at OSU.
Smart enjoys doing what college kids do. And he enjoys the college experience, even classes. There's something, too, about being the BMOC.
“Marcus and Phil, wherever they go on campus, to frat parties and other places,” the elder Forte said, “the kids start chanting: ‘One more year!'
“They don't do that in the NBA. They don't rush the court in the NBA.”
Smart is still a teenager, just turning 19 last month. After a stress-filled and difficult childhood spent in South Dallas, those around him report that this has been among the happiest years of his life.
Will that continue in Orlando or Charlotte or New Orleans or Phoenix, where they currently lose twice as many games as they win?
D-Day looms for Marcus Smart, with an official announcement likely coming Tuesday or Wednesday, following the Final Four.
The good news for Smart: there is no wrong decision, because it's his decision.
Still, a difficult decision.
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