Marcus Smart remains torn on “the decision.”
A flip of the coin perhaps?
“If only it was that easy,” Smart said Monday evening, before accepting the Integris Wayman Tisdale Award as the nation’s outstanding freshman at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
In a chat with reporters before the Devon Energy College Basketball Awards Banquet, Smart was clearly showing the stress of his pending decision: to return for another year with the Cowboys, or to move on as a projected high pick in the NBA Draft.
And Smart offered no clues toward a lean either way.
“I have not made a decision yet,” he said. “I’m still talking to my parents, the team, Coach (Travis) Ford, just trying to get some things situated and get some information to make my decision.
“It’s definitely been stressful. Obviously, the year didn’t end as we would have liked. But it’s definitely been stressful, especially with this upcoming decision I have to make.
“A lot of people want me to stay. A lot of people want to see me go. Ultimately, it comes down to my decision and what I would like to do.”
He’s not lacking for advice, either, particularly around campus, where he says he can hardly make a turn without hearing a plea to return.
There’s even a Twitter account now dedicated to such an appeal — “Please Stay Marcus!” @StayMarcusSmart.
And yes, he’s aware of that, too. And appreciative.
“I hear it every day around campus, just walking around, in class,” Smart said. “I’ve had some tweets toward me. That just shows how much this school has grown and this team has grown. Last year, we didn’t have as much support, because we weren’t doing so well, which is understandable.
“But we brought life back to Stillwater and Gallagher-Iba and it’s incredible to have that type of support.”
And Smart said that support is a factor in his decision. Yet only one factor in these difficult days weighing his future, which currently offers alternate promising scenarios.
Play for pay? And we’re talking figures featuring six zeros before the decimal point.
Or play for school pride, and the potential of a rich season, considering all who would return for the Cowboys, led of course, by Smart.
A year ago, Michigan’s Trey Burke faced a similar scenario and elected to stay. Monday night, he was in the room with Smart, picking up the Oscar Robertson Award recognizing the National Player of the Year after a run to the Final Four.
Burke said he doesn’t regret his decision.
“I think I was able to come back, mature for another year, grow mentally and physically,” he said. “And I was able to come back and be more of a leader, really.
“Going back to school, the whole college experience, that was something I needed again. I wanted to come back and still be a kid again. I think that’s allowed me to grow up as well.”
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who accepted the Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award, said he favors the college baseball rule, which allows a player to go pro out of high school, or commit to three years if he signs with a Division I school.
“I worry about how much pressure’s on the players,” Izzo said. “It’s like they almost don’t get to enjoy the best time of their life. If somebody asked me, ‘Which part of your life would you want to go back to?’ – I’d pick college in a heartbeat. It wouldn’t be high school and it wouldn’t be anything else. It’d be college.”
All that presumably is in the inner discussion for Smart.
An ongoing inner discussion.
“I have made a Pro-Con list,” he said. “And it gets more difficult every time I (amend) the list. I make it at least every day, because my mind changes every day. So it gets harder and harder every day.”
Ultimately, a decision must be made.
April 28 is the NBA deadline for underclassmen to declare to enter the June draft.
So a decision will come … any day?
“It’ll be soon,” Smart said, “but not that soon.”