“It's an honor to be in the same category as the two other players who have won these awards before,” Smart said. “It's amazing. It's a big accomplishment for me. I'm just ecstatic about it.”
Sophomore forward Michael Cobbins joined Smart on the All-Big 12 Defensive Team. Smart leads the league in steals, while Cobbins is fifth in blocked shots. Markel Brown was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team, while Le'Bryan Nash earned Third Team honors and Cobbins was listed as honorable mention.
It's the second straight season for an OSU player to be recognized as Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Le'Bryan Nash shared the honor with Baylor's Quincy Miller last season.
Smart, following a wildly successful Texas prep career at Flower Mound Marcus High, took over the point guard position and has started every game for the Cowboys, who finished third in the Big 12, one game behind co-champions Kansas and Kansas State.
One of the nation's top recruits coming into OSU, Smart has lived up to the advance billing, averaging 15.1 points per game, 4.3 assists and 3.0 steals — all ranking among the Big 12's leaders. He tops the league in steals and ranks fifth in scoring and sixth in assists. His 5.7 rebounds per game make him the only player in the conference ranking in the top 15 of those four major categories.
It's that all-around impact, coupled with an array of intangibles, that prompted coaches league wide to rave about Smart with regularity and likely lifted him above Kansas senior center Jeff Withey in the Player of the Year voting.
“Make no mistake about it, the key to that whole thing is what Smart does,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said after the Cowboys' win in Fort Worth on Feb. 27. “He's special. He's really special.”
When asked how he'd celebrate Sunday's big news, Smart remained low key.
“I'm not going to do much to celebrate,” he said. “These awards, I won them, it's over. We've still got a lot of basketball to take care of. So we've got to get ready for business and Thursday's game. I'll relish in the moment right now. And tomorrow put that past me.
“I might go to Braum's and get a milkshake or something.”