Cowboys freshman Marcus Smart is being projected near or at the top of this July's NBA Draft. Now, he hasn't yet declared that he's leaving Oklahoma State. And he won't decide on his future until season's end.
And those around him insist it's no slam dunk that he'll become OSU's first one-and-done player.
The pros and cons of staying … or going:
Jumping To The NBA
Pro: It's the NBA, the ultimate league and test for any elite basketball player.
Con: Do you really want to play in Orlando, Charlotte or Washington? The Bobcats are 242-455 with one playoff appearance in their 10 seasons; Orlando, now without Dwight Howard, is 16-42; and the Wizards, who have John Wall at the point, have endured five straight losing seasons and last made the playoffs in 2008.
Pro: The money is good. Last year's top pick, Kyrie Irving signed for three years and a guaranteed $16.3 million. The No. 10 pick, Austin Rivers, got three years and $5.9 million guaranteed.
Con: The difference between No. 1 and, say, No. 6 — Damian Lillard last year — is substantial. Lillard signed for two years and $6.27 million. So returning to OSU could actually pay off, if Smart were to move up in the draft.
Pro: With the biggest stage, comes the brightest lights. Television. Highlights galore …
Con: Wait, are the Bobcats on TV?
Staying In School
Pro: Winning. The Cowboys are enjoying — so far — their best season in a decade. And with Smart and almost everyone else back, joined by four-star recruits Stevie Clark and Detrick Mostella, OSU would be a force in 2013-14; a Final Four contender.
Con: Winning isn't guaranteed. Injuries — yes, there's that concern — or chemistry issues can derail a season in a hurry.
Pro: Fun. Smart enjoys a special relationship with his Cowboys teammates, especially best friend and roommate Phil Forte, whom he's played with since third grade on the AAU circuit. For all the bright lights and big pay, the NBA is all business.
Con: A new year brings a new mix, which doesn't always stir the same chemistry.
Pro: BMOC. Already, Smart is loved and adored at Oklahoma State. He's a throwback player that Eddie Sutton said could play for him. He's already played a big role in restoring the rowdy to Gallagher-Iba Arena. And he'd challenge any football player as the face of the university, if not all of college basketball, with national Player of the Year awards very much in play.
Con: All that love and attention can get a little bothersome?
By John Helsley