Freshman Marcus Smart has decided to stay another year at Oklahoma State. That isn’t a typo. Smart was projected to be one of the top five picks in this year’s less than stellar NBA Draft. As a top five draft pick, there are certain immediate benefits after your name is announced by the commissioner. Smart would have been given a signing bonus of about $10 million, completely transforming him from a broke college kid to an instant millionaire. The reasons for Smart to enter the 2013 NBA Draft are endless. The scenarios of players who clearly should have bolted to the NBA early, but stayed in school, have historically come back to haunt them.
Coincidentally, the most recent instance of a great player being hurt by staying in school, also comes from the Big 12. Perry Jones III was an incredibly athletic forward who averaged 13.9 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game for the Baylor Bears. While the average fan would look at these stats and wonder how Jones III would be considered a lottery pick, NBA scouts were drooling over his raw talent and potential to transform him into an impact player in the NBA. Jones was the 8th best recruit in his class and a McDonald’s All American, however he could not lead a struggling Baylor team to the NCAA tournament. Everyone assumed that Jones III would enter the 2012 NBA Draft, he shocked the nation and thrilled the Baylor faithful by electing to return to Baylor for another year.
The only thing that Jones III did by returning for a sophomore season in Waco was allow scouts more time to find holes in his game and make them second guess their earlier ideas of turning him into an all-star. While Baylor improved tremendously overall, Jones III did not. Junior guard Pierre Jackson took over the team, and big man Quincy Acy seemed to make more of an impact than Jones III. To nobody’s surprise, Jones III suffered the consequences of his decision by dropping from a potential top five pick to the 28th pick in the draft. Now maybe a trip to the Elite Eight was worth more to Jones III than that nice signing bonus that comes with being a top pick, however I’m guessing that if you ask him you’ll receive a stern “No it was not.” Perry Jones III is currently playing only 6.5 minutes per game and averaging 2.0 points per game with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Perry Jones III set an important precedent. If you have the opportunity to be a top pick, you have to take that opportunity. It’s sad that everyone else will profit from the talents of Marcus Smart for another year except Marcus Smart.