Okla. State freshman Marcus Smart will start at point guard. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Oklahoma State's long road trip to Europe was more business than pleasure for coach Travis Ford. While Ford told CBS Sports' Gary Parrish that his "wife and kids weren't real happy" with him, his decision not to allow family members on the trip has either provided him clarity of mind or -- some might argue -- jet lag delirium.
Parrish reports Ford returned from touring Barcelona and the Canary Islands having decided to start a freshman at point guard.
Most coaches might shudder at the thought handing the keys to their team to a true freshman, but Marcus Smart is no run-of-the-mill, untested newby. One of the nation's top 2012 recruits became known as a basketball smart, versatile and savvy leader during Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus' back-to-back 5A state championships. Nationally, Smart matched or dominated opponents in the country's top AAU tournaments and starred internationally on the gold-medal U-18 USA Basketball team this summer.
He's going to be our point guard," Ford said. "Defensively he's great because he sets the tone. And offensively he's really good because he's so unselfish. He can handle the ball and pass it, and we're doing some stuff where we can post him because he's just an animal down there. So, yeah, he can play off the ball. But most of the time we're playing him at point guard. He's our point."
Ford told Parrish that he was blown over by Donovan's admiration for Smart's game and point prowess.
I called Billy as soon as they got back," Ford said. "I was just checking to see how Marcus played and how Billy played him, and I couldn't get a word in for 45 minutes because all Billy wanted to do is talk about how great [Smart] was. He loved him, and it's been fun for me to coach him, too. All of our guys have just fallen in love with him. He's a great leader already.
Ford hopes a Smart-led 2012 recruiting class
that includes Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus teammate Philip Forte
can help the Oklahoma State program improve on its seventh-place finish in last year's Big 12 standings