Marcus Smart spurned millions of dollars and the NBA to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season. The reasoning? Improve his jump shot, work on his point guard skills and, most importantly, leave college a winner.
Yes, I know all about The Streak. Bill Self and the Jayhawks have Rock-Chalked their way to nine consecutive regular-season league titles. I also know all about the coaching matchup. Self and his two Final Four appearances versus Travis Ford and his lone NCAA tournament victory. It’s a major mismatch.
Self might have more overall talent, but Ford has that X factor, and his name is Marcus Smart. He's unique, a throwback -- and he’s no longer all about toughness and intangibles. Now, Smart has become comfortable as a point guard, and he has showed he can make shots from the perimeter.
Smart can carry this team deep into March, but Oklahoma State can’t count on nights like this -- when he erupts for 39 points and almost single-handedly runs away from a ranked Memphis team in the first 10 minutes of the game. He’ll need help, and he has enough of a supporting cast to take this team to a Big 12 title and dethrone the mighty Jayhawks.