Some people ripped him for passing up on the millions of guaranteed dollars, which is ironic since so many complain about the one-and-dones. I didn't rip him, but I certainly would have advised him to go pro since he was projected as a top three pick, if not number one.
|College basketball fans should applaud Marcus Smart.|
But, it was Smart's decision to make. College basketball fans should applaud and support him, because he's making the game they love better.
I was watching the ESPN 30 for 30 film Survive and Advance the other day. One thing that stood out to me early on in the film was the quality of college basketball in the 1980's, when everyone stayed in school. Ralph Sampson, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and Akeem Olajuwon all stayed in school for at least three years. Today, guys like that are almost all gone after a year.
I was jealous watching that. College basketball was much better in the 1980's because players kept returning to school instead of jumping too early to the NBA. We'll never get back to that, but it is refreshing to see a player like Smart stay in school, stay committed to the coach and program who gave him a free education, and to continue to improve at the college level before he's absolutely ready to be a pro.
Is it the right decision? Is it wrong? I don't know. Time will tell. All I know is it was Smart's choice, and I think he knows what he can handle. Even if he takes a step back as a sophomore (which I doubt, barring injury), he has two years after that to get back where he wants to be. Plus, I'm sure he'll have some insurance policy (like college football players often get) if disaster strikes and he suffers a horrible injury.
As loaded as the 2014 class is, I really think Smart could still be a top three pick next year. That's assuming, of course, he comes out next year. Maybe he stays in Stillwater even longer, and I think that would be awesome for college basketball.
My opinion really means nothing, but for what it's worth, I think most college players should stay the full four years like they did in the '80's, and only leave if they are projected as lottery picks (like Smart is). However, the decisions are theirs, not mine. Opinions like that mostly come off as selfish. As fans, sure, we want our teams to be good, so we want kids to stay in school.
If a kid thinks going pro early is the best for him, then good luck to him. I understand striking while the iron is hot. I just hope kids who leave early are listening to the right people. A lot of times, they aren't.
As far as Smart goes, I'll definitely never blast a kid for staying in school. Smart will get his money one day, and I think he'll make a lot of it in the NBA when he is ready.
Oklahoma State is not my favorite team, but Smart is one of my favorite players. I love his heart, his fire, and how he selflessly helps his team win. Friends told me about how great he was in high school, and I was excited to see what he brought to the college level. He did not disappoint. When he's not playing one of my favorite teams, I pull for him to do well. I will especially do that next year, as he will be the one of the faces of college hoops. He'll raise the game's profile, and people will want to tune in to watch him every week.