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March 11, 2013

Marcus Smart earns Big 12 honors from coaches, media

STILLWATER, Okla. — Marcus Smart has joined an exclusive class of Big 12 Conference basketball players.

The Oklahoma State freshman point guard joined former Big 12 greats Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley as the only Big 12 players to earn both Freshman and Player of the Year honors in the same season.

“It’s a special achievement,” Smart said. “Obviously not a lot of people can say they’ve done what we three have done. It’s a big deal. I’m just thankful and honored to be in that same category as those guys.”

Smart made a clean sweep of the awards handed out Sunday and Monday, earning both Freshman and Player of the Year awards from the Big 12 coaches as well as the honors from the Associated Press.

Smart was a unanimous selection for the Freshman of the Year award, as well as the All-Defensive Team and All-Rookie Team. The Flower Mound, Texas, native also landed on the All-Big 12 First Team. He  ranks in the top 10 in the Big 12 in several statistical categories, including scoring (sixth), assists (sixth), steals (first) and free throw percentage (fifth).

Smart was also named Monday as one of five finalists for the Bob Cousy Award for college basketball’s top point guard by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Smart has already been named a finalist for several other national awards, including the Naismith Player of the Year Award, the John R. Wooden Player of the Year Award, the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year Trophy and Wayman Tisdale Award for the nation’s top freshman.

“Going into the postseason there are going to be a lot of players that are upset that they didn’t get some awards they think they deserved, so they are going to come out and try to prove themselves to the league and the nation that they deserve that,” Smart said. “So this is all motivation to me and my team to just keep going and strive for what we’re working on.”

On Monday, Smart was named the national Freshman of the Year by Sporting News was a first-team All-American selection by the publication. The only other Cowboys who have ever made Sporting News’ All-America first team are James Anderson (2010), Gale McArthur (1951) and Bob Kurland (1945 & ‘46). Smart is also the first Cowboy to ever be honored as the national Freshman of the Year by any publication.

The successful season for the Cowboys saw several other players earning post season accolades from the Big 12 coaches. Junior guard Markel Brown landed a spot on the All-Big 12 Second Team, while sophomore Le’Bryan Nash was named to the third team and redshirt sophomore Michael Cobbins earned honorable mention.

Cobbins also joined Smart on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. Cobbins averaged 1.61 blocks per game in conference play — ranking fifth in the league — and was seventh in the conference in defensive rebounds with 4.72 during league play.

“We’ve challenged him, especially coming into conference play, to be a difference maker for our team,” OSU coach Travis Ford said. “... One of the things Michael is good at is he’s a versatile defender. He can guard a lot of different people on the floor and then he can protect the rim because he understands shot blocking, understands timing, he’s long. But that is something is a strength of his game right now, is defensively he can make a difference for him.”

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