Oklahoma City News, Entertainment & Occasional Humor • Established 2007

People who think Marcus Smart should stay in school are dumb…

marcus smart

After doing nothing but watch basketball over the last weekend, I pretty much hate the sport right now. I want to think about basically anything else. But my mind doesn’t work that way.

The low point of my weekend was on the first day. After spending three years waiting for my alma mater to return to the NCAA tournament, I’m going to have to wait a minimum of another twelve months to see them play in the tournament. From the tipoff, the Oklahoma State Cowboys were putrid. It started with the team’s leading scorer turning the ball over, leading to an easy basket, then the same player failing to successfully inbound the ball despite zero defensive pressure. Things did not improve much from there.

Getting bounced in the opening round in the first ever match up of ranked teams in the tournament’s first day was not necessarily unexpected. However, it did hurt that this was the final image I would have of Marcus Smart’s time with OSU.

This is the part where deluded Oklahoma State fans remind me that the college Freshman of the Year and Naismith Award finalist has not declared for the NBA draft yet. He could still come back for another season in Stillwater and make a run at a championship with his dwarf best friend and midget coach at his side. I have been getting this a lot in the past week.

“If he leaves, I’m going to call him Marcus Dumb,” my mother-in-law and fellow alumnus informed me because people of that generation think saying such things are witty. Meanwhile, a NewsOK poll of whether Smart–projected as a lock for being one of the first five players selected in the draft and a very possibly the first guy taken–will leave school early barely registered in favor of starting his lucrative career (52%-48%). The comments were predictably questioned his moral character for considering his own best interest instead of that of the Oklahoma State University men’s basketball program.

No one has appreciated the resurrection job Marcus Smart did for OSU basketball more than me. I attended the school when Eddie Sutton reigned supreme and mourned the ever worsening product that current head coach Travis Ford kept putting on the floor. It got so bad in their sub-.500 season from last year, that I stopped even watching the games on television. Smart instantly changed the culture. Only 18 year old, the kid brought an old man game to Gallagher-Iba Arena. He was steady where the rest of the players tended toward erratic and made the big plays when they were needed. His back flip to celebrate the upset victory in Lawrence belongs in the pantheon of big sports moments for the school.

Yet, if Marcus Smart wears the orange and black of Oklahoma State next year, I will be disappointed.

These are the reasons people think he should come back, and why they are dumb:

He needs to get a college degree

The purpose of college is to get a degree, right? No. The purpose of college is to prepare oneself for their chosen profession. If I had been offered one of the 200 best jobs in the profession of accounting after completing just my freshman year, I don’t think I would have been like, “I’ll take my chances.” In fact, if a CPA firm had offered me six digits, let alone the seven digits Smart is in line to make, I would have been gone.

Improving his draft status

Not to deny that Smart is a rare talent, but this year’s draft talent pool is very weak. Even if he comes back next year and improves exponentially, it is unlikely that he will have a better chance of being the first pick. Next year’s draft class projects to have a two-time national high school player of the year in Chicago Simeon’s Jabari Parker who will be at Duke next season. Despite that pedigree, Parker isn’t even the number one ranked recruit in this high school class.

Winning an NCAA championship

Travis Ford is still the coach of OSU, right? Smart would have to be the greatest player in basketball history to overcome that handicap.

The money will still be there next year

Let’s look at it this way: I’m not sure what Marcus Smart’s major is (probably something lucrative like “Physical Education”) but for argument’s sake, let’s pretend it’s an awesome degree that can earn $100K the first year out of college. If Smart is picked fifth in the NBA draft, probably worst case scenario at the moment, he’d be losing $3MM in wages to continue being an unpaid intern. It would take him approximately 30 years at his learned profession to get that money back.

Plus, it’s a huge assumption that the money will be there next year. Sam Bradford lucked out that his injury plagued return to OU for his junior year didn’t cost him his draft status, but even then, it certainly effected his contract negotiations (not to mention the year of his career lost). Even without injury, Landry Jones’ senior year cost him millions.

College Co-eds

This can’t be underrated, but I hear NBA players have groupies.

Clark Matthews is a co-founder and sports editor emeritus of The Lost Ogle. You can follow him on Twitter at @ClarkMatthews.


  1. People didn’t call Blake Griffin dumb when he came back. They commended him for loving the college experience and wanting to play with his brother

    Also, Landry Jones was never going to be a high pick even if he didn’t come back. Don’t believe the Sports Animal. Dude got a low grade, thats why he came back.

      • I didn’t think Blake Griffin was dumb for coming back. The 2008 draft class was pretty strong (Rose, Beasley, Mayo, Love, Gordon, Westbrook, Gallinari). There was no guarantee he’d go in the top 5, plus he was able to play an additional year with his brother. Also, the 2009 draft class was pretty weak. He virtually locked up the first pick in the draft the following year.

        Smart, on the other hand, should probably go pro. Especially if he’s a lock to go top 5.

  2. Add to your argument that Stephen Clark, from Douglass High School, is coming to OSU. Smart may not even be the best player on the team next year.

    • This is funny. Im not saying Clark isnt a great player and incredible scorer but theres no way in hell that he is a better player than Smart. Smart, potential top 5 pick. Clark, will never play in the NBA.

  3. Also another reason to leave…he lives in Stillwater. I’d burn up an engine trying to put that hellhole in my rear view mirror.

  4. Smart does need a degree to fall back on once his NBA days are done. Basketball isn’t forever. That said, he can always come back to OSU to finish out his degree when his career winds down.

    • In a way that’s how one should look at it, but that’s what Thurman Thomas did, and now, Mike Holder won’t allow he or his daughter to attend OSU. Supposedly, Thomas was in a verbal agreement that he would one day come back to finish his degree at OSU after the NFL and now, Mike Holder is not upholding this since he was not the AD who “agreed” to this. Thomas’ daughter has applied to OSU and has been denied as well.

      • I’m not saying there isn’t some truth to Mike Holder not wanting Thurman Thomas back but the AD can’t deny people admission if they are applying as regular students. If they meet the current admission requirements, they will be admitted. Simple as that. Now perhaps, they no longer meet the current admission requirements at OSU and that is why they were denied?

        • I’ll comment by stating Mike Holder is a penis and cares not about ANY former OSU athlete or legacy. Ask Scott Verplank.

      • I’m calling b.s. on this story. If there really was some weird thing where the Athletic Director was blocking Thomas from getting a degree for himself and his daughter, I doubt Thomas would continue being an ambassador for the school, as he still does.

        • You can believe it’s BS, that’s fine. I can also give you info about the time Mike Leach spent a week in Stillwater, and interviewed with Gundy after leaving Texas Tech.
          I heard it and saw it firsthand in the summer of 2010.
          Have a great day.

          • to clarify….”Mike Holder informed Thurman Thomas he was not interested in allowing him to return to the University to finish his degree”…

    • He does? With just lukewarm investing a top-5 pick who plays in the NBA for 6 or 7 seasons should leave the NBA with more money than a person can reasonably spend in a lifetime.

      Obviously we’ve all heard the tales of NBA stars leaving the game broke– and that could happen to Smart. But if this is happening to Smart– if he blows through $100 million in under a decade– then it’s safe to assume that he isn’t going to be all that hireable even if he has an OSU degree. After all, he’ll be in his late 20’s with limited experience in his new profession and a widely publicized bad spending habits.

      While I’d love Smart to return to OSU (and wish basketball were like baseball), it simply doesn’t make sense from a financial standpoint.

  5. I would love to see Smart stay for at least one more season, but personally would think he was crazy if he did. The financial hit he would take from a injury is enough to end the arguement. Just look at how injury prone this team has been in the last two years. GO NOW MARCUS!

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