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Make the Smart Choice and Watch Marcus Smart

College Basketball season is not that far off and I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for this season. Now many college basketball fans are excited to watch some of the young freshman like Andrew Wiggins of Kansas, Julius Randle of Kentucky, Jabari Parker of Duke and many more amazing freshman. However, I am here to remind you to watch sophomore guard Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State.

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With all the hype around these young amazing freshmen, some people tend to forget about Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State. It wasn’t to long ago that after his freshman season he was projected to be a Top 5 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and plenty of experts expected him to be drafted over point guards Trey Burke and Michael Carter Williams in the draft. However, Smart decided that he wanted to stay at Oklahoma State for his sophomore year instead of entering the 2013 NBA Draft.

Now many people criticized him for this decision, some even said he was “stupid” for passing up the opportunity to be drafted in the Top 5. However I have to disagree. Smart is a loyal young man who believes in his teammates and wanted to come back this season and make a statement in the Big 12. Not only that, Smart wants to put himself in the best position to be successful in the NBA which means coming back to play his sophomore year and going up against some of the best talent not only in his conference but also in the nation. Now some criticized him because they said he could get hurt which is true but he could get hurt in the NBA but at least in college you have the opportunity to bounce back and still get your degree as where the NBA, you more than likely worried about keeping your roster spot.

Then some criticized him for not entering the 2013 NBA Draft because the freshman talent would be even better this season, so some felt he should leave while he could before he gets overlooked or his draft stock drops. True competitors don’t leave because new amazing talent is coming in, they should leave if they feel they are ready for the NBA. Smart didn’t and I’m inclined to agree, he’s an amazing player but there are still things he must add to his game. Plus coming back allows him to be challenged even more than he was his freshman year, because now teams are aware of him and will have defensive schemes for him. It allows him to face adversity and be challenged. As far as draft stock goes, don’t worry about it. There are plenty of players in the NBA who had high draft stocks but are barely surviving in the NBA and there are plenty of players who had underrated draft stocks or lowered draft stocks and are rising stars in the NBA. So again I repeat there was nothing wrong with his decision and from what I hear he looks great so far in practices and I have no doubt that he will be something to watch just like last season.

Which is why you would be smart to watch Marcus Smart this season. He averaged 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game last season as a freshman but it wasn’t just about his stats. Even as a freshman he showed the ability to lead his team and you add that along with his toughness and unselfishness and you have a rising star in Smart. Then as far as his size, he represents the new era, he is currently 6’4 and 225 pounds, but has great ball handling skills and a high basketball IQ.

When it comes to creating for others, Smart has great vision and passing ability, I would consider him to be a natural play-maker from what I have seen. Not only can he create for others but he can create for himself as well. He can break down defenders one on one or he can weave through defenses and get to the rim and finish due to his good strength. He also has a nice pull up jumper, which he can hit in catch and shoot situations or coming off the dribble. He also has shown the ability to be an impressive defender, he has quick hands and is discipline. More importantly he is humble, coach-able, confident, intelligent and a leader.

Going into this season, I expect him to be even more explosive and amazing. However, there are some things I want to see him improve on and add to his game. Smart is considered to be a combo guard, so I think he has to prove to scouts that he can be a true point guard. He is currently 6’4 and while in college that could be combo guard height, it’s really point guard height in the NBA. While he has shown the ability to be a point guard, he will have to show it even more this season to the scouts. He averaged only 4.5 assists per game, so that must improve and he also must do a better job of limiting turnovers this season.

I would also like to see him add somewhat of a post game to his skill set this season, with his great size and strength, he has the ability to take smaller guards in the post, back them down and score. I feel a post game would not only help at the college level but even at the professional level. He also needs to learn how to move better without the ball, he’s never had to work on it much because he always has the ball in his hands but to add the ability to move without the ball and have success will be a huge addition to his game. As always when talking about a guard, I want to see his jumper get better and better, especially from the long-range. He already has a good jumper but if he can consistently hit shots from three as consistent as he does from mid range, he will be a true triple threat when it comes scoring.

Overall, I expect great things from him this season and I also look forward to watching Oklahoma State basketball this season as well. Big 12 should be one of the conferences to watch and not just because of Andrew Wiggins of Kansas and Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State. There is plenty more talent in the Big 12 this season and other conferences this season such as SEC, Big Ten, Pac 12, ACC and more. Once again, I am not throwing salt at the freshman phenoms of this season, I’m saying don’t forget there are some upperclassmen to watch along with some under the radar freshman to watch. College Basketball season is almost here, so get ready.

Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit

Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com

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