Marcus Smart Reminds Us That This Season Isn’t All About the FreshmenPosted by Taylor Erickson on November 20th, 2013
Marcus Smart sees your fab freshmen, and raises you a super sophomore. In what many anticipated would be an entertaining showdown between two top 15 teams last night in Stillwater, Smart took it upon himself to remind everyone in college basketball that this season isn’t just about Wiggins, Parker, and Randle.
We’re all aware of Marcus Smart’s story by now – the ultra-talented freshman who turned down what figured to be a guaranteed top five pick in last June’s NBA Draft for a chance to return to Oklahoma State and further cement himself among college basketball’s elite. Smart knows this much. He has acknowledged the fact that he could be making millions of dollars this season, rather than playing for free this year in Stillwater. He could be cruising around in whatever luxury vehicle he’s always dreamed of, but instead pushes his way around campus on a mountain bike. In an interview with ESPN’s Jay Bilas that aired during the game on Tuesday night, Smart pointed to his inconsistent jump shot, and the need for improvement in that area before taking his game to the next level.
If the first half against Memphis was any indication, it would appear Smart is progressing just fine, dropping 26 of his career-high 39 points in the Cowboys’ rout of Memphis. For anyone fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the Oklahoma State point guard on this night, you couldn’t help but come away impressed by his performance. His entire collection of skills were on display, scoring in the transition game, posting up smaller guards, and yes, knocking down jump shots from behind the arc. In a packed Gallagher-Iba Arena, and in front of former Texas great and current member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kevin Durant, Smart seemed to relish the moment, even staring down Durant after drilling another outside shot. It’s almost as if Smart spent last week watching the Champions Classic, and all the attention Wiggins, Parker, and Randle received, while patiently waiting for his chance to make a nationally-televised statement of his own.
With all the preseason hype focused heavily on this year’s freshman class, it would only be natural for Smart to feel a little slighted heading into his sophomore campaign, and honestly, who could blame him? Just a year ago, he was the Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins or Julius Randle of college basketball. Maybe he didn’t have the same level of anticipation that some of this year’s freshmen have had, but once the season was underway, there was no denying his impact on the game. He was the newcomer vying for a spot as an All-American. The kid from Flower Mound, Texas, who almost put an end to Kansas’ Big 12 regular season dominance. And now, we’ve almost delegated him to an afterthought in our fascination with the new bright and shiny presents of college basketball.
So in a way, perhaps Tuesday night was the type of reminder we all needed, and the type of reminder Smart was more than happy to provide. In a year where the headlines have been dominated by freshmen, let’s not forget there’s a pretty special sophomore out there too.