By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Even before the first leaves begin to fall, it seems like everybody is falling for Oklahoma State sophomore basketball player Marcus Smart.
Smart was named the preseason National Player of the Year by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, Blue Ribbon announced Tuesday.
“Obviously there are a lot of great players out there,” Blue Ribbon editor Chris Dortch said. “But in choosing our national player of the year, we look at more than just talent. Marcus Smart is a stat-sheet stuffer, but he also has the intangible quality of making those around him better. Everyone we spoke with about him had nothing but praise for his abilities — those that show up on the stat sheet, and those that don’t.”
As a freshman, Smart averaged 15.4 points, 4.2 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game en route to winning the Wayman Tisdale Award, given to the nation’s top freshman. He was also a unanimous selection for Big 12 Player of the Year and Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and considered a top 10 draft pick before announcing in April he was returning for his sophomore season.
During the summer, he represented the U.S. at the U19 World Championships, where he averaged 9.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 2.2 assists in nine games.
It’s there where Smart began to earn recognition from Blue Ribbon.
“Typical of the responses was a text I got from VCU coach Shaka Smart, Florida coach Billy Donovan’s assistant the last two summers on the USA U18 and U19 teams for which Marcus played,” Dortch said. “I sent coach Smart a text asking him what he thought about Blue Ribbon making Marcus our player of the year. His response was short and to the point: ‘Great pick. He’s a winner.’”
In addition to being named the preseason Player of the Year by Blue Ribbon, Smart was also listed on Blue Ribbon’s preseason All-America team, along with Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, Louisville’s Russ Smith and Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins.
Oklahoma State enters the season ranked 12th nationally in Blue Ribbon’s preseason top 25. The Cowboys begin practice for the upcoming season Sept. 28.