Skip to content

Properly evaluating Marcus Smart

Dec 11, 2012, 5:00 PM EDT

Marcus Smart

If you missed it, there interwebs has played host to an entertaining discussion about Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart over the last day or two.

It started when John Gasaway ranked the freshmen and slotted Smart at 14th, which, according to Mike DeCourcy, is borderline certifiable, as he wrote, “People, Marcus Smart has been the best college player in the nation to this point”. Gasaway fired back, saying, essentially, that he had Smart that low for two reasons: 1) he’s not shooting the ball well for a player whose role is that important, and 2) he can and will play better before the season is out.

Frankly, I don’t think either of them are right as of right now.

I understand Gasaway’s point, but calling Smart the 14th best freshman in the country right now is ludicrous. I’d have Smart somewhere in the top three, along with Anthony Bennett of UNLV and Jordan Adams of UCLA. If you want to slide him down to sixth — behind Nik Stauskas, Ben McLemore and Semaj Christon — because you hate the fact that he’s shooting 45.3% from two and 20.6% from beyond the arc while shooting 23.9% of the possessions that he’s on the floor — or because he’s averaging 3.4 turnovers — than I’ll disagree with you, but at least I’ll understand where you’re coming from.

But you can’t have Smart as the 14th best freshmen in the country, just like you can’t call Smart the best college basketball player in the country to this point in the season.

Because that award belongs to Mason Plumlee, and it’s really not close.

Plumlee has finally turned all of his potential into production, averaging 19.2 points, 11.4 boards and 1.7 blocks while shooting 61.1% from the floor and 73.1% from the free throw line. He’s become Duke’s anchor on both ends of the floor, turning them into a team that lost to a No. 15 seed in the opening round of the 2012 NCAA tournament into one of the two best teams in the country. And Plumlee has posted these numbers while Duke has beaten Kentucky, Minnesota, VCU, Louisville, Ohio State and Temple.

Smart has changed the culture of that Oklahoma State team. He’s taken over a leadership role and gotten the Pokes through a pair of season-ending injuries. It’s not a coincidence that Le’Bryan Nash is starting to play up to his potential this season or that Oklahoma State is tougher on the defensive end of the floor. But Smart has led Oklahoma State to wins over Akron, Tennessee, NC State and South Florida and a loss at Virginia Tech.

Speaking of Virginia Tech, I also think I would rank Erick Green — the point guard that went for 28 points in the Hokie’s win over Smart’s squad — over him. Green is averaging 24.8 points and 5.0 assists while turning the ball over just 1.8 times per game while leading Tech to an 8-1 start that, quite literally, no one saw coming. Michael Carter-Williams, Doug McDermott, Jeff Withey and Trey Burke are all guys that deserve heavy consideration for the title “best player in college basketball this season”.

Smart’s been great.

No one is saying otherwise.

He’s an all-american as of now.

But I don’t think he’s the Player of the Year after the first month of the season.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Three-star guard Myles Powell trims list to eight

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour/Getty Images Kelly Kline/Under Armour/Getty Images

    Powell’s recruiting profile has risen thanks to the way he’s played throughout the summer.

  2. Power forward becomes Iowa’s second 2016 commitment

    Jul 30, 2015, 6:56 PM EDT

    Fran McCaffery AP

    With Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury being seniors, having two front court commits in 2016 is good news for the Hawkeyes.

  3. Italy trip comes at good time for young Stanford team

    Jul 30, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT

    Johnny Dawkins AP

    The Cardinal need to account for the loss of their top three scorers (and top two rebounders) from last season’s NIT champion team.

  4. Valparaiso star center receives extra year of eligibility

    Jul 30, 2015, 2:37 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The Crusaders are getting back the league’s defensive player of the year.

  5. Throwback Thursday: Donnie Tyndall’s only NCAA tournament win (VIDEO)

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:25 PM EDT

    Murray St Morehead St Basketball AP

    Tyndall’s one NCAA tournament win sure was memorable.

  6. Steady improvement turning Alize Johnson into valued Division I prospect

    Jul 30, 2015, 12:03 PM EDT

    Alize Johnson Alize Johnson

    The cousin of former Pitt forward Chevon Troutman has developed into a quality recruit himself.

  7. Report: SMU’s Larry Brown up against ‘lack of coach control’ charge

    Jul 29, 2015, 11:40 PM EDT

    Larry Brown AP

    According to the report SMU met with the NCAA Committee on Infractions last month.

  8. BYU lands third 2016 commitment in 6-foot-6 guard/forward

    Jul 29, 2015, 10:35 PM EDT

    Connor Harding, Zach Hillman AP

    Harding won’t join the program until 2018 however, as he’ll be taking his two-year LDS mission beforehand.

  9. Marquette coaches discuss daily ‘noon ball’ tradition (VIDEO)

    Jul 29, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Director of player personnel Travis Diener is pegged as the best player in the games, with he and assistant Chris Carrawell trading some good-natured shots at each other.

  10. ACL tear sidelines San Diego State guard Matt Shrigley

    Jul 29, 2015, 8:17 PM EDT

    Matt Shrigley, Grayson Allen AP

    Only Aqeel Quinn, who’s out of eligibility, made more three-pointers for the Aztecs last season than Shrigley.

  11. Four-star power forward names his top three schools

    Jul 29, 2015, 6:42 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/adidas Kelly Kline/adidas

    All three programs made Davis a focal point in Las Vegas last weekend.

  12. Las Vegas Leftovers: Some notes that didn’t make the recaps

    Jul 29, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/adidas Kelly Kline/adidas

    Notes on Vance Jackson, Brendan Bailey and Javonte Smart included.

  13. Isaiah Zierdan one-ups Roosevelt Jones’ trick shot (VIDEO)

    Jul 29, 2015, 3:17 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    I’m OK with this becoming a thing all August.

  14. Another Division I coach loses their job in the wake of the Donnie Tyndall scandal

    Jul 29, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Southeastern Louisiana Southeastern Louisiana

    Tyson Waterman is the latest victim in the fallout from the Southern Miss scandal.

  15. Is Jamal Murray considering skipping classes to play for Team Canada?

    Jul 29, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    150521calipari Getty Images

    That’s now two of Kentucky’s elite freshmen with concerns looming.

  16. Bruce Pearl on his time at Tennessee: ‘I ran a clean program’

    Jul 29, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    150729 brucepearl Getty Images

    Bruce Pearl was fired by Tennessee for lying about a barbecue.

  17. Five-star 2017 center cuts list … to 13?

    Jul 29, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    4_3726139

    See which schools are still in play for one of the top rising juniors