“It was dwelling with me inside, both ways,” Smart said of the decision. “My mom came to me after the banquet and she said, ‘I've been praying. Whatever you want, I'm happy for you. I think you know what you want. Yeah, it's hard, you want both. But just go with your heart.'
“And I prayed that night and woke up the next morning and talked to her again and made my decision. OSU is where I wanted to be one more year and enjoy being a kid.”
A kid who ranks among the best college basketball players in the country.
The Cowboys lose only center Philip Jurick from a team that went 24-9 and ended a two-year NCAA Tournament drought. In Smart, Brown and Nash, they'll have the Big 12's top three returning scorers. And overall, they'll return their top seven scorers.
Brown and Nash's decisions to return are significant, too, with each key cogs to OSU's success.
Nash progressed as a sophomore, accepting and thriving as a forward, a role he'd resisted previously.
“This is one of the hardest decisions of my life,” Nash said to the Student Union gathering. “It took a lot. I talked to Coach (Travis) Ford and I talked to my family. I decided to come back for my junior year.”
Brown bettered his game, revealing an improved shot that showed he wasn't just a one-dimensional dunker, raising his NBA stock in the process.
As he stepped to the microphone Wednesday, he enjoyed some back-and-forth with the crowd.
“How y'all doin?” he said.
Eventually someone cried out, ‘Tell us your decision!”
Brown offered back: “What you think I should do, man?”
This day, in this environment, there was no doubt.
So he will.
“I've had the time to talk to my family, talk to my grandma and my uncles,” Brown said, “and we all came up with the decision that it was time for me to keep building on this legacy here at Oklahoma State.”
By the scene and the sound inside the Student Union on Wednesday, Smart, Brown and Nash are building on a basketball revival at OSU.
“I'm just glad that this group of guys right here,” Smart said, looking left and right, “including me, and the coaching staff, were able to bring the rowdiness back and continue this thing that we have.
“It's a special thing. We thank the fans. We love these guys for coming out and supporting us. It's incredible.”