Images by photographer KT King from Wednesday afternoon's news conference in which Oklahoma State…
When Marcus Smart said he knows how much money he's giving up, he wasn't kidding. OSU coach Travis Ford sat down with the Cowboys' MVP last season to analyze a NBA rookie salary. Smart learned exactly just how much he would make in his first year as a professional basketball player.
"It was incredible just to imagine me, being 19 years old, being able to make more money than pretty much half the people who go to this school or even live in this town," Smart said. "That's incredible for a 19-year-old kid."
His couldn't help but think about what he would do with that cash.
"I would be lying if I didn't say I did," Smart said. "Every kid that sees those types of numbers, it's only right for your mind to wander. Ultimately, I asked my mom. My mom's dealing with some health problems. She has one kidney. She needs a kidney. She's not doing too well.
"For my mom to say, ‘If you want to go back to school, that's fine with me.' That just meant a lot. Looking at that big number, knowing I could buy her a house, and she turned it down. You don't see that very often. That really made my decision a lot easier."
On Tuesday, Smart met with former Michigan guard, and 2013 John Wooden Award winner, Trey Burke, in Oklahoma City at an awards banquet. Burke had the opportunity to declare for the NBA draft after his freshman season, but returned for his sophomore campaign.
That decision helped Burke's status. So you can imagine how the conversation went as Smart picked his brain.
"Obviously, he wasn't in the same situation I was, but he decided to come back for his sophomore year," Smart said. "And I'm not saying it works for everybody, but it definitely worked for him. He increased his potential, his stock … as a better player, a better person maturity wise.
"He was young. He said, ‘When I first came here, I was like man, I'm gone.' But then reality kicks in. He enjoyed the college life. He enjoyed being a kid. And he decided to stay."
While the spotlight remained fully on Smart during the decision, Phil Forte took the microphone to share his gratitude for his teammates' return.
"This kind of goes past basketball," Forte said. "These three guys are great people and we're all just great friends. We get along. I'd probably say the best thing about them coming back is that we get to spend another year together. I think I speak for the rest of the guys when I say that's what we're looking forward to the most.
He didn't have time to watch the press conference unfold, by OSU football coach Mike Gundy still had plenty to say about Smart's decision to return.
"I think it's a great day to be a Cowboy," Gundy said. "I don't know Marcus real well, but obviously I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and what he brings to Oklahoma State. And I was hoping that he would come back.
"Again, that's selfish for an Oklahoma State guy, because he's tremendous for our school. Not only as an athlete, but the way he approaches himself and the way he handles himself. So I was really happy for him.
"We all knock on wood and say (the NBA) will be there for him someday. But I think without speaking for him -- I didn't hear the press conference -- but he's got another chance to be a normal person for another year. To be a college student. That's something you don't ever get back."