The 2014 draft? It’ll be one for the ages.
With the NCAA Tournament finally underway, we’ll be bringing you the stars of the night after each day of action. For those of you with day jobs, it’s hard to keep up with all the action. 16 games were on the schedule Thursday (while four are still in progress) so lets take a look at the stars of the day.
Oklahoma State is into the Big Dance as a No. 5 seed in the Midwest Region. Here are five things to know about the Cowboys:
1. Point guard Marcus Smart nearly has Jason Kidd numbers. Seriously. The freshman is averaging 15.4 points per game, 5.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 2.9 steals. Kidd’s numbers as a freshman: 13 points, 5 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 3.8 steals. In other news…
2. Smart is the Big 12 Player of the Year. He carried Oklahoma State to a terrific season, and the Cowboys wouldn’t be nearly as good without him. He’s a tremendous athlete with a great defensive motor and will be one of the top picks in the NBA Draft come June.
3. Guard Markel Brown isn’t a bad second option. Brown averages 15.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He scored 28 in the Cowboys’ 85-80 win at Allen Fieldhouse earlier this season. He’s also the de-facto leader on the team as a junior, as Smart and Nash are both underclassmen.
4. Le’Bryan Nash is underrated. Yet another big scorer for the Cowboys, Nash puts up 14.1 points per game. He’s gone off for 24-plus points four times this season and has crazy athleticism and leaping ability. He will get a look at the next level as well.
5. This program is on the rise. Oil magnate T. Boone Pickens threw millions of dollars into the Oklahoma State athletic program a few years back, and the Cowboys have responded with great success in football (as evidenced by their Fiesta Bowl win two years ago) and are starting to turn the corner in basketball. Head coach Travis Ford is a good recruiter and the facilities are among the best in the nation.
The NBA draft is all about projections and potential. A generation ago, most NBA executives’ strategy was to compare prospects based on their collegiate careers. Then the Fab Five arrived at Michigan, and suddenly the process was flipped upside down. Underclassmen were scrutinized, analyzed and scouted thoroughly by NBA clubs who wanted to get the next big-time prospect.
While prospects with high upside are intriguing, they come with more risk than upperclassmen. The lottery is annually dominated by underclassmen, primarily freshmen.