Marcus Smart eyes Andrew Wiggins
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
STILLWATER, Okla. — As Oklahoma State prepares to celebrate the opening of a highly anticipated season Friday night, the reigning Big 12 player of the year and the league’s preseason player of the year finds himself overshadowed in his own conference by the hype surrounding an 18-year-old yet to play a college game.
Marcus Smart, who postponed an NBA career for a year to return for his sophomore season with the Cowboys, says he is very much motivated by – and not the least bit envious of – all of the attention garnered by Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins, the most heralded gem in a distinguished class of freshmen sprinkled throughout the country this season.
Smart has heard all about Wiggins being called the best high school prospect since LeBron James, and the best freshman to enter the sport — former high school phenoms James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett skipped college — in a generation.
“They are saying he is the best college player there is and he has not even played a game yet,” Smart told USA TODAY Sports. “Of course that hypes me up. It is all talk. He still has to put his shorts on one leg at a time like I do. It is all potential. I am not saying he can’t do it. But he has not done it yet.”
The regular season matchups between Kansas and Oklahoma State – Jan. 18 in Lawrence, March 1 in Stillwater – will carry significant Big 12 title and NCAA seeding ramifications. But Smart says that stretches of the two games, depending upon lineups and other factors, should feature the undisputed marquee one-on-one matchup of the college basketball season – one matchup, Smart says, that all fans nationwide are eager awaiting.
At 6-foot-4, Smart wants nothing more than an opportunity to guard the sinewy 6-8 Wiggins.
“Definitely,” Smart says. “I am not going to back down from any challenge. Like I said, you are going to have to prove to me. I am a fighter; I will keep fighting and will never give up.”
In Smart and Wiggins, the Big 12 possesses two of … [For more on Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart eyes Kansas' Andrew Wiggins, click here.]