Kansas', or Baylor's, chances of winning the Big 12 in men's basketball next season just took a massive hit as Oklahoma State freshman guard Marcus Smart will reportedly return for a second season in Stillwater.
Smart was the Big 12 Player and Freshman of the Year.
Somewhere Oklahoma State University team owner T. Boone Pickens has to be smiling. Kansas' run of Big 12 titles, which stands at nine consecutive, should be over.
Smart was expected to be top five pick in the 2013 NBA draft had he elected to enter. This is a major coup for Okie State and coach Travis Ford, and for college basketball. Not many guys of Smart's caliber stick around for two years.
He is by far the best player returning to the Big 12 next season. The 6-foot-4, 225 pound freshman from Flower Mound led the team in scoring with 15.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He set a conference freshman record for steals with 99.
The two things he needs to clean up: 3 point shooting (38-for-131) and ballhandling (139 assists to 111 turnovers).
Oklahoma State finished third in the Big 12 last season and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Oregon. This should be a Sweet 16 team next season, at least.
Along with Smart, Okie State should return Markel Brown (All-Big 12 second team), Le'Bryan Nash (All-Big 12 third team), Michael Cobbins (honorable mention) and Phil Forte (team record for 3s by a freshman).
If this team does not win this conference, T. Boone will not be pleased.
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