Unless you live under a rock, there’s one name you’ve heard time and again over the course of the past year leading up to the 2013-2014 college basketball season. Andrew Wiggins.
His name has been a Twitter trend, his highlight films a social media phenomenon, and anything written about him pure gold for websites like the one on which you’re reading this article.
Wiggins is off to a solid start in his freshman campaign with the Kansas Jayhawks, averaging 17 points, 6.7 boards and around an assist per game. As long as there isn’t a world-class regression by him as the conference season nears there’s little doubt he’s a 2014 NBA Draft lottery pick lock.
The problem is, though, the attention being paid to him — while warranted — is misplaced. There’s another player in the Big 12 who deserves much more praise and attention than he’s receiving in the early going of 2012 largely due to the Wiggins Hype Factor.
That guy? Oklahoma State Cowboys do-it-all shooting guard Marcus Smart.
Smart has been absolutely electric for the Cowboys so far in 2013, averaging 20 points, 4.3 boards and 3.5 assists per game. He systematically picked apart the Memphis Tigers defense last evening one of the marquee matchups of the early season, posting 39 points on 11-21 shooting from the field, 5-10 from three and a cool 10-15 from the line. In short, he was magical.
Smart had the option to declare for the 2013 NBA Draft, and at the time was projected as a high-end lottery pick but had enough self-awareness to stay behind in Stillwater for one more season to refine his game, to polish his game, and make himself even more attractive in 2014. In watching his first four games of 2013, it’s obvious there’s little Marcus Smart can’t do.
At 6’4″, 220 he’s a strong swing guard who can shoot the open jumper with consistency, drive to the basket with authority, play great on ball defense, and rebound and grit it out in the paint with the big guys. In short, he’s the prototypical NBA shooting guard with absolutely umlimited upside.
Sure, Andrew Wiggins has an unbelievably bright future down the road, but his game is so raw with a great degree of polish and fine tuning ahead before he can be mentioned among the guys who will make an instant NBA impact.
Marcus Smart is there now.
Do yourself a favor:
The next time you hear all the talk about Andrew Wiggins, make an effort instead, to turn some attention to Marcus Smart, and you’ll see the difference.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer, Business Analyst and College Content Coordinator for Rant Sports.