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Oklahoma State basketball: With his draft stock soaring, Marcus Smart has a decision to make

The Oklahoma State freshman will soon face the decision: stay or go. On the surface, it's a decision that seems so simple. But nothing about Smart and his past, present or future is simple.
by John Helsley Published: March 1, 2013

The pleas went out Wednesday night on Twitter, from adoring Cowboys fans to Marcus Smart. And the message is sure to spread, growing from singular appeals to a unified roar inside Gallagher-Iba Arena with just two home games remaining.

“One more year! One more year!”

Smart's stock as an eventual pro continues to soar, with some NBA Draft analysts suggesting he could even go No. 1 overall if he decides to become a one-and-done player and enter the Draft in July.

So, the Oklahoma State freshman will soon face the decision: stay or go.

On the surface, or in the hands of most elite prospects in the same spot, it's a decision that seems so simple.

Go.

Take the money.

Seek the fame.

Play at the highest level.

Ah, yet nothing about Smart and his past, present or future is simple. He's a complex young man, with complex thoughts and plans.

“I'm not one of those guys who comes in and that's all I'm focused on, that's what I want to do,” Smart said. “Whatever happens, happens. I'm not forcing the issue. I'm letting it come to me.

“You've got some guys, that's all they want and that's all that's on their mind. ‘I'm going to the league. I'm going to the league.' That's what they're focused on.

“I'm really focused on my team and the rest of the season right now.”

And if you've seen him play, with a relentless passion for every minute he's on the floor, you know that's true. He's bound to be on the floor Saturday, diving and scrambling for loose balls when Texas visits Gallagher-Iba Arena for a 3 p.m. tip.

Sure, there's much to like about making millions and joining the fraternity of LeBron James and Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant.

And yet, as Blake Griffin told CBSSports college basketball insider Jeff Goodman recently, all that can wait.

“I felt like staying another year was the right move for me,” Griffin said. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made. It enabled me to mature and get better as a basketball player.

“If I came out after my freshman season, it would have been a different story.”

Griffin would have been a lottery pick following his freshman year at Oklahoma. But he returned for another year and reaped a bounty of awards — and fun, an oft-forgotten advantage the college game offers over the pros — as the Sooners rolled to the Elite Eight and Griffin nabbed Big 12 and multiple national Player of the Year honors, including the John R. Wooden, Oscar Robertson, Adolph Rupp, Naismith, NABC and Associated Press.

And the pro thing worked out for Griffin, too, as he went No. 1 overall following his sophomore season and has ascended to superstar status in the NBA as an annual All-Star.

And multimillionaire.

“Everyone's in kids' ears for a payday,” Griffin said. “The chance to get paid and take care of your family … But it's about being ready, not necessarily about taking that big payday right away, but giving it time.

“You might drop a few spots, but you might end up with a team that's a better fit — and end up making more money in the long run.”

Does Griffin's path benefit Smart similarly?

One NBA executive said Smart projects as strictly a point guard as a pro. And while that's the position he's playing with the Cowboys — and playing it well — this is his first season as a full-time point guard. And sometimes it shows.

“Smart is not a clean ballhandler as he turns it over a lot,” said CBS analyst and former Cowboy Doug Gottlieb, “and while he is an improving shooter, that truthfully is not his game. Smart just makes plays.”

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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Where some NBA mock drafts have OSU's Marcus Smart going

ESPN.com — Between first and third, depending on which team wins the draft lottery, shuffled around with Kansas' Ben McLemore and Kentucky's Nerlens Noel. Smart would go first overall if the Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Hornets or Toronto Raptors win the lottery, according to ESPN's Chad Ford. 

SportingNews.com — Sixth to the Sacramento Kings, behind Indiana's Cody Zeller, McLemore, Georgetown's Otto Porter, Maryland's Alex Len and UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad.

HoopsWorld.com — Fifth to the Phoenix Suns, behind Muhammad, McLemore, Zeller and Noel.

DraftExpress.com — Sixth to the Sacramento Kings, behind Noel, McLemore, Muhammad, Zeller and Len.

HoopsHype.com — Second to the Orlando Magic, behind McLemore.

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