Published: June 15, 2013
The final play of Saturday morning's scrimmage showed why the NBA wants Oklahoma State sophomore guard Marcus Smart so badly.
Smart intentionally drew a foul as time expired. It meant nothing - it was a scrimmage after all - but it displayed what makes him a special player.
"He has that warrior mindset where he will work hard every play," said UCLA coach Steve Alford, who was at the U.S. Olympic Training Center to watch his son, Bryce, try out for one of the 12 roster spots on the men's under-19 basketball world championship team. "He does what it takes to help the team win, which is why so many like him."
Smart, who won both the Big 12 player and freshman of the year awards, stood out for many reasons, including a big upper body for a 6-foot-4 point guard.
"He (Smart) is a fundamentally sound all-around player who can play very physical," said Cheyenne Mountain High School graduate Canyon Barry, who just completed his redshirt freshman season at the College of Charleston. "He can just bully his opponent."
Barry came away impressed by the talent of the 26 fellow incoming college freshmen and sophomores.
"There is so much talent out there that making this team is more about finding a role where you can contribute," said Barry, who showed off court vision with good passing. "We have so many finishers on this team I was hoping to show how I can distribute."
One of those finishers, Smart, helped the U18 team win the FIBA Americas championship last year by setting a record by averaging 3.6 steals.
It was the start of a huge year. In addition to his Big 12 honors, which included all-defensive team, he received the Wayman Tisdale Award and Sporting News and U.S. Basketball Writers Association national freshman accolades.
Smart will use the world championships to improve his game.
"This is an opportunity to learn from great coaches and get more experience as a point guard against world-class competition," he said.
Playing in the U19 world championships June 27-July?7 in Prague promises to be the start of another special year for Smart, who could lead OSU to a Big 12 title after turning down a chance at top-five money in the 2013 NBA draft.
But then, turning down millions for a shot at college glory is consistent with his team-first attitude.
"It would be a blessing to make this team," Smart said. '"Those other things you mentioned are all individual awards. This is about helping my country win. That means much more."