Ford has high hopes for freshman Smart
by By Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford was effusive in his praise of Big 12 preseason freshman of the year Marcus Smart, the McDonald’s all-American whose versatility and intangibles should help the Cowboys challenge the upper echelon of the league.
“Marcus, probably more than any player I have ever coached, affects a practice, affects a game more than any player I have seen,” Ford said. “He is involved in everything. He is the ultimate winner.”
Aside from his considerable talents, Ford said Smart never stops talking on the court. He makes the extra dive for loose balls. And the Flower Mound, Texas, native is versatile enough to play four positions.
“So many players today, their whole barometer of whether they are playing well is about points,” Ford said. “Their whole demeanor is what can you do for me coach, especially when you are talking about the top 15-20 players in the country. He does not think about that at all.”
Oklahoma State was picked to finish third in the Big 12 preseason poll, behind Kansas and Baylor.
Ford said that Smart and sophomore Le’Bryan Nash complement each other well. And he hopes the success of the duo helps compensate for the team’s relative lack of size in the front court.
“I don’t know if there is a bigger team in the country at the one, two or three,” Ford said. “We are a different team. We’re inverted.”