Marcus Smart was already thought to be one of, if not the nation’s freshman this season, and he didn’t dissuade anyone from that opinion on Wednesday night.
Smart went for 21 points, seven boards, six assists and four steals while shooting 9-15 from the floor to lead Oklahoma State to a 78-76 win over Iowa State in Stillwater.
His biggest shot came with 3.1 seconds left, after the Pokes had erased an 11 point second half deficit. With the game tied on the final possession, Smart came off of a high-ball screen, shaking free from Will Clyburn and hitting a floater off the glass over Georges Niang.
(CLICK HERE: For video of Smart’s game-winner.)
That set up one of the weirder endings you’ll see this season.
After Le’Bryan Nash used the foul that Oklahoma State had to give, the Cyclones turned the ball over on the inbounds. But on the ensuing inbounds pass, Nash was called for a foul battling with Chris Babb for position. As Babb was getting set to shoot a 1-and-1, the officials huddled and ruled that since Nash didn’t have possession of the ball, it was a player control foul and that Iowa State should get the ball out of bounds. Tyrus McGee missed a prayer at the buzzer that would have won the game.
This was a key win for an Oklahoma State team looking to add a bit of padding to a thoroughly mediocre resume. Avoiding 3-4 in league play was important as well, as the Pokes are headed to Kansas on Saturday.
It makes you wonder: where would the Pokes have been if Marcus Smart hadn’t hit a 60-foot runner at the end of the first half?:
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.
News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.
Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.
Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.
Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.
6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.
West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.
Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.