By Jason Elmquist
OKLAHOMA CITY —
The most anticipated answer around Oklahoma State University will continue to be anticipated.
At a banquet to receive his Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year trophy at the National Cowboy and Western History Museum in Oklahoma City, OSU freshman Marcus Smart said he is still uncertain on whether he would declare for the NBA Draft.
"I have not made a decision yet. I'm still talking to my parents, the team, coach (Travis) Ford and just trying to get more information to make my decision," Smart said.
Smart has until April 28 to declare for the NBA Draft, which will be held June 27 following the NBA Finals. The Cowboy point guard, who was the Big 12 Conference Player and Freshman of the Year, didn't give any insight as to when he could make his decision with the next two weeks leading up to the deadline.
"It won't be any time soon," Smart said. "It'll be soon, but not that soon."
Smart said he has made several lists with the pros and cons of staying in Stillwater or going pro. One of those nuggets weighing on him is the camaraderie with his teammates, which includes high school teammate Phil Forte.
"I have made a pro-con list and it gets more difficult every time I make the list. I make it at least every day because my mind changes every day and it gets harder and harder every day," the Flower Mound, Texas, native said. "It's unbelievably difficult because of the team we had this year. We had some great guys and a great team."
With Smart possibly becoming another player in a long line of college players leave for the NBA after one season — and fellow banquet recipient Trey Burke, winner of the Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Award, declaring for the draft after two years at Michigan —the topic of early entry to the NBA Draft was a hot topic at the Devon Energy College Basketball Awards banquet.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who received the Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award during the banquet, said he'd like to see the NCAA and NBA move away from the one-and-done rule for men's basketball — having players stay in college longer.
"I've always said I like the baseball rule (where college players must wait three years after high school before being eligible for the MLB draft), but believe it or not I do it for a different reason," Izzo said. "... It's not about the coaches, like everybody thinks. I worry about how much pressure is on the players — it's like they almost don't get to enjoy the greatest time in their life. I don't know about you, but if you asked me which part of my life would you like to go back to, I'd pick college in a heartbeat."
While coaches want to see players staying in college longer, situations are different for each player — when thinking about the millions of dollars available for those able to make it in the NBA. Smart can relate to Oklahoma City Thunder player Kevin Durant, who also won the Big 12 Freshman and Player of the Year award at the University of Texas and then decided to take his talents to the NBA.
"That would be amazing to talk to him and pick his brain about some things," Smart said.
One thing Durant may not have had to factor in, though, that Smart does is the potential on the team returning for Oklahoma State next season. The Cowboys graduated just one player — Philip Jurick — and possibly have top scorers Markel Brown and Le'Bryan Nash returning — though both have shown interest by the NBA.
"It all plays a role, that's why we're still here today talking about it," OSU coach Travis Ford said. "He understands that we're going to have a good basketball team — with or without him, we're going to have a good basketball team. And he knows, 'Hey, with me, we could be pretty good and special things could happen.' But he also understands the other side of it, that he's earned and deserves the right, if wants to go to the NBA, he's earned it and it's there for him. ...
"As I've told him, he's in a good spot either way. He's in a very good spot, but it's a tough decision for him."