By Russell Hixson
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Fans and students were surprised and excited that Oklahoma State University basketball standout Marcus Smart turned down starting a lucrative career in the NBA to play another year with the Cowboys.
Players Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown also said they intended to stay and play another year.
“I was pretty surprised that Marcus was coming back,” said Blane Lindly shortly after the press conference at the Student Union. He said he expects the team to go to the Sweet 16 or the Elite Eight next season.
The Pokes finished third in the Big 12 Conference regular season. They advanced to the semifinals of the Big 12 Conference tournament. Oklahoma State lost to Oregon in the NCAA tournament to finish with a 24-9 season record.
“If every game’s not full next season that’s bad because this is probably the best team that’s come through Stillwater in a long time — probably since we went to the Final Four around 10 years ago,” Lindly said. “It should be packed every night and I’ll definitely be there.”
OSU advanced to the Final Four in the 2003-2004 season. They finished the year with a 31-4 record.
Michael Parisi said he was excited about the returning players and expected another great year for the program. He also felt the fans played an integral role in the players’ decisions.
“I think the ‘one more year’ chants at Gallagher-Iba really got to the players this year, we really supported them this year and I think it’s hard to leave the great support they have at OSU,” he said. The Flower Mound, Texas, native said he grew up watching Smart play and is looking forward to watching point guard next year.
“I absolutely love basketball and getting to watch them my freshman year got me so excited about it,” said Sarah Kline. “Getting to see all of them come back gets us all excited for the new season that we are gonna get Gallagher-Iba all rowdy for.”
Kline said she was surprised Smart turned down playing in the NBA and thought it was awesome of him to stay at the school to support the fans.
Austin Griffen said he wasn’t surprised by Smart’s decision as he had heard earlier in the week that he would be staying.
“If it was me I probably would have went,” Griffen said. “It’s a lot of money to turn down.”