Hit or miss?

Marcus Smart can't shake a shooting slump, but scouts still say he's a pro

Originally Published: January 23, 2013
By John Gasaway | ESPN The Magazine
Marcus SmartPeter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesSmart accounted for 38 percent of OSU's combined assists and steals through 15 games.

WHEN MARCUS SMART arrived at Oklahoma State in the fall, the McDonald's All-American was billed as a one-and-done point guard. Scouts loved Texas' two-time Gatorade Player of the Year for his ballhandling, size (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) and focus on D. But then an unexpected thing happened to the Cowboys' can't-miss star: He struggled to make a shot.

Through OSU's first 11 games this season, Smart hit just 35 percent of his field goal attempts and 28 percent of his threes. Yes, Smart was an efficient floor general from the start, playing tough D and leading OSU to a 10-1 record. But his poor touch took a toll on his numbers, including a 5-for-15 showing in an 81-71 loss at Virginia Tech on Dec. 1.

About a week after that game, I ranked Smart 14th on my initial ESPN Insider list of the top 25 freshmen. From a metrics-only standpoint, that ranking was actually too kind, because the players above and below Smart had similar intangibles but were far better shooters (Michigan State's Gary Harris, for example). Still, that didn't stop colleagues and scouts from blasting me for putting him so low. Insider draft expert Chad Ford, for one, rates Smart as the No. 5 freshman and projects him to be a top-10 pick in June.


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