“It just opens my eyes to a lot of things. I'm a good player, and my confidence and self esteem are high because I'm out here competing with these guys.”
Smart's unselfish style and humble persona made for an easy transition in the mostly pro environment. Yet while the team fit was important, it went way deeper than just that.
“He's also a really good player, too,” said Florida coach Billy Donovan, who had Smart on the U19 squads and was on hand in Vegas. “He probably would have been a top-five player taken in the NBA Draft.
“People at USA Basketball watching him play at Colorado Springs last year and this year, seeing the kid win two gold medals and being one of the leaders on our team, he's earned the opportunity to be out here with these guys.”
Boeheim said he'd expect Smart to continue earning looks from Team USA to play on even bigger stages.
While the 2016 Summer Olympics might be a stretch, 2020 may not be. And there are world championships and other events to fill the years in between.
“We've got all young guys here, and I think all of them are capable,” Boeheim said. “And it's a real long period, not just two years, it could be in four or six or eight years down the road. All these guys are going to be around at some point in time, it's just that nobody knows when.
“Marcus has fit into all our teams. He knows the important thing is to win the game. And he wins games. That's what he does. He's a great, great kid to have on your team. You'd like to have him on your team no matter where you were.”