STILLWATER — Marcus Smart is back.
Back practicing with his Oklahoma State teammates.
Back from suspension, eligible to play in the Cowboys' next game on Saturday, at home against Texas Tech — the last team he faced, when a late-game shove of Red Raiders fan Jeff Orr resulted in his three-game ban.
And back answering questions, Thursday offering his first public comments since issuing a statement Feb. 9 when his suspension was revealed.
So, what has the time in between been like?
“Interesting,” Smart said. “One word I can sum it up, it's been very interesting being away from my team, especially on the road and seeing them play on TV.
“It's kind of weird, because I've never been a part of something where I have to watch a team that I'm on, on TV without me playing.”
Smart said that he's grown from the incident and the time off to reflect.
“If I had to say one takeaway, it was a good learning (experience) for me,” he said. “It builds character, and it strengthens me; not just me, but this team.
“It shows a lot of character as far as this team to go out and perform the way they did without me, still go out there every day and play their hearts out and then to have me back and to wait on my arrival. It showed a lot of courage and confidence in this team.”
OSU lost all three games without Smart, seeing its losing streak extended to seven games.
In their past two games, however, the Cowboys were competitive, losing close, tough games to Oklahoma and Baylor.
Now they're eager to get their point guard and leader back on the floor.
“He's been playing well in practice the last few days,” said senior guard Markel Brown, who's been playing the majority of the minutes at the point in Smart's absence. “He's been making a lot of shots. And he's been leading off the floor. So some great things from him.
“He's just ready to get back on the court. He's ready to put all that behind him. He's ready to help this team win. He's been encouraging us the whole way; he's been behind us 100 percent. Now he's ready to come back out there and help contribute with the team. He's liked the way we've been playing the last couple of games and he's ready to join that.”