Smart and McDermott Not Bad Either

1 Dec

During the first couple of weeks of the season much of the hoopla surrounded the nation’s heralded freshmen, and rightly so.  From Arizona’s Aaron Gordon to Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid at Kansas to Kentucky’s class of Julius Randle, Aaron and Andrew Harrison and James Young to Duke’s Jabari Parker the country has marveled at what the new kids have been able to do.

Over the last 10 days we have been reminded, by at least a couple of guys, that some of the incumbents on the college basketball landscape aren’t half bad either.  Oklahoma State’s sophomore Marcus Smart and the country’s most-decorated walk-on Creighton senior Doug McDermott have shown why they are favorites to take home the National Player of the Year award.  Over the last five games Smart has averaged 24.6 points and McDermott 23.4 over the same span.

Smart surprisingly returned to Stillwater for his sophomore season despite being a potential lottery last June.   He said he wanted to work on parts of his game, namely his jump shot before entering the NBA.  The Flower Mound, Texas native has been universally lauded by coaches across the country for what an upstanding individual and leader he is.

Last Saturday they welcomed #11 Memphis to town and Smart showed what he was capable of.  He scored 26 of his career-high 39 as well as four rebounds, four assists and five rebounds in a 21-point win over the Tigers.  A week later Smart put up 23 in the first half in a rout of South Florida and followed that up with a 30-point performance (24 in the first half) in the first round of the Old Spice Classic against Purdue.  In the semifinals against Butler Smart had 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists to lead the Cowboys to the finals against the team Smart began this run against, Memphis.  This time the Tigers got their revenge with a 73-68 win even though Smart finished with 12 points, eight boards and four assists.

McDermott returned to Creighton this summer but that wasn’t the only news for the prolific scorer.  He also announced that he would technically play as a walk-on in his final season in order for the school to offer a scholarship to his friend and sixth-year senior Grant Gibbs, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility.

On the 16th he had 20 points and five rebounds in a four-point win over St. Joseph’s.  A week later he had 33 and 15 in an 82-72 victory over Tulsa.  Creighton began the Wooden Legacy in Fullerton, California on Thanksgiving with a high-profile match up with Arizona State.  The Bluejays got the best of the Sun Devils thanks to McDermott’s 27 and six rebounds while holding Jahii Carson to 15 points.  In the semifinal Creighton faced San Diego State but the 20th ranked Bluejays fell 86-80.  In the loss McDermott poured in a team-high 30 points.  In the third-place game against George Washington McDermott was held to just seven points on just 2-12 shooting in a 60-53 loss.

Since the first week of the season we as fans have been told to enjoy the freshmen for the few months we have them in college basketball.  Well the same should be said about the likes of Smart and McDermott because they too will be taking their talents to the next level in a few months.

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