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PROSPECT PROFILE: MARCUS SMART

by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Beat Writer

PLAYER SUMMARY – In terms of this year’s crop of prospects, when the argument arises whether a college player should stay in school or declare for the Draft after a big freshman season, Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart is usually cited as Exhibit A.

The physically-gifted Smart earned about every freshman honor possible during his first year in Stillwater and was viewed as a top 3 pick in the 2012 Draft, but he returned to OSU for his sophomore season. And even though his numbers improved almost across the board, Smart’s stock still took a slight hit – most precipitously after the Texas Tech incident on Feb. 9 in which he shoved a fan and was suspended three games.

Despite the critiques, Smart is still one of the top two points guards in this year’s Draft and will almost certainly be among the first ten picks when Adam Silver takes the podium on June 26.

There’s a lot to like about Smart’s game on both ends of the floor, but scouts usually start with his physical attributes. The 6-4, 220-pound Dallas native is built like an NFL free safety and often plays the game like one. He’s tough as nails with a relentless motor and competitive fire. He’s as good a rebounding point guard as there is among this year’s prospects, and he loves to use his big body to post up smaller PGs. That size (his wingspan measured at 6-9 ¼ at the Combine) also allows him to guard several positions. He’s an instinctive player who averaged almost three steals per game in two years at OSU – using his anticipation and length to clog passing lanes and his aggressiveness and strength to simply strip the ball from opponents. He’s a natural leader with a nasty competitive streak that coaches covet.

On the offensive side of the ball, Smart excels at getting to the basket, drawing fouls and finishing – averaging almost eight trips to the line per game. He’s not a particularly skilled ball-handler and his turnover-to-assist ratio is subpar, but he is an efficient playmaker who looks to get his teammates involved and excels on the fastbreak. Smart isn’t a great shooter from the outside – shooting just 29 percent from long-distance over his two seasons at OSU. He’ll need to prove his jumper at the next level.

Smart’s short fuse and aggressiveness can sometimes get him into trouble – the shoving incident at Texas Tech and an outburst against West Virginia may give teams at the top of the Draft pause. He also wasn’t the leader the Cowboys were looking for in crunch situations. In seven OSU games that were decided by three or fewer points or in overtime, Smart went just 3-14 (21 percent) from the field in the final two minutes and overtime – also missing several free throws in that span.

Marcus Smart would have been a top 5 pick in the 2013 Draft and he’s likely to go almost as early this year. That extra year at OK State might not have helped how NBA scouts view him, but it certainly didn’t hurt the rugged point guard – a certain lottery pick next Thursday night.

PLAYER SNAPSHOT

  • Height: 6-4
  • Weight: 225
  • Position: G
  • College: Oklahoma State

VIEW SLIDESHOW

PLAYER HIGHLIGHTS – Smart was a two-time gold medalist for the US – in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championships and 2013 FIBA U19 World Championships. Last spring, he became the first player in NCAA Tournament history to record 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals in a game. Smart was just the second Cowboy to average 15-plus points as a freshman and was named First Team All-American and the National Freshman of the Year by Sporting News. He was also a unanimous selection for Big 12 Player of the Year and Big 12 Freshman of the Year and owns the Big 12 single-season steals record for a freshman with 99.

As a sophomore, Smart was named Honorable Mention AP All-American as well as All-Big 12 First Team and Big 12 All-Defensive Team.

PLAYER COMPARISON – As far as natural leadership and the ability to carry a team, Smart has been compared to recently-drafted point guards, Trey Burke and Kemba Walker. But from a purely physical standpoint, Smart’s dimensions are more like a young Dwyane Wade.

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