At least one prominent college basketball star seems to remember the old public service message to “Be Cool: Stay In School.”
Oklahoma State freshman guard Marcus Smart, considered by anyone I’ve ever paid attention to to be a Top 5 pick in this year’s NBA draft, is expected to formally announce he will be returning to school in a press conference to be held at the student union on Wednesday afternoon. The setting — which will also be open to the public — seems to be as much a confirmation that he’ll have something to say that Cowboy fans will want to hear as the story from Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski.
On first glance, such a decision might be seen as a move to improve his chances at being the top pick in next year’s draft. However, next year’s class, headlined by Canadian sensation Andrew Wiggins, is expected to be much deeper than the current crop. Even if he improves his game, there is a chance that Smart will be picked no higher than he would have been this year.
Then again, that may not be Smart’s motivation. By all accounts, he genuinely enjoys the college experience. And even though he’ll be letting millions of dollars sit on the table for 12 more months, there’s something to be said about savoring an experience that can never be replicated.
It will be interesting to see if the rise of Trey Burke played any factor in Smart’s decision. Burke was awarded the Oscar Robertson Award for national player of the year in Oklahoma City at the same event where Smart won the Wayman Tisdale Award for freshman of the year. Burke mentioned how much returning to school for another year benefited him, and that may be just the thing Smart needed to hear to finalize his decision. (Ironically — or maybe sneakily — Burke probably improved his own draft stock with Smart coming back to school).
One certainty is that Oklahoma State should be a force to be reckoned with next season. The Cowboys only have one departing senior starter, and enough returning talent to threaten Kansas’ reign of dominance over the Big 12.