Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart has no regrets regarding decision to return for sophomore season


Former Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart’s decision to return for his sophomore season was seen as a perplexing one by some people, as it’s rare to see a surefire lottery pick turn down the seven figures they’d make as a rookie in the NBA. And with the 2014 NBA Draft having the look of one being far superior to the 2013 edition, there were even some who opined that Smart was costing himself money by returning to Stillwater.

Unfortunately for Smart, while his numbers were solid the season did not go as smoothly as he and his fellow Cowboys had hoped. As a team Oklahoma State went from being ranked in the Top 10 in December to landing in the 8/9 game in the NCAA tournament, falling to Gonzaga in the Round of 64.

Add in the three-game suspension Smart received after he shoved a fan in the final seconds of a loss at Texas Tech, and the question of whether or not he regretted returning to school was sure to come up at the NBA Draft Scouting Combine in Chicago. Yet according to Andrew Seligman of the Associated Press, Smart has no regrets and instead looks at his experience as one that will help him moving forward.

“Everything that happened this season, I wouldn’t change it for a thing,” Smart said Friday at the NBA draft combine. “It helped me. It got me ready for the NBA and things that come in the NBA.”

In 2013-14 Smart averaged 18.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, shooting 42.2% from the field and 29.9% from beyond the arc. While Smart’s percentages improved by a small amount from his freshman season, there are still questions regarding his ability to be a consistent perimeter shooter.

And given the issues that weren’t seen in the box score, it’s understandable if some of his time spent talking with NBA team executives includes questions regarding his handling of adversity. Smart stated in the story that it isn’t something he’s going to shy away from, choosing instead to answer those questions directly, and that’s the best approach.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.

Albany’s Peter Hooley accepts Inspiration Award

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Last week, Albany senior Peter Hooley accepted the Inspiration Award at the Coaches vs Cancer Basket Ball in Troy, New York. The Albany athletic department uploaded his entire speech on Monday afternoon.

Hooley had one of the most uplifting moments of March after months and months of heartache.

The junior guard missed three weeks of the season to travel back home to Australia to be with his mother, who was battling colon cancer. She passed away in January. Hooley returned to the team in February and the following month, the Great Danes had a shot at an NCAA tournament berth. In the America East Tournament championship, Hooley sunk a game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds to go.

Hooley, who graduated in May, was selected to give the commencement speech.