One-on-One With Marcus Smart-Part 1

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart had a busy summer. The Oklahoma State sophomore helped lead USA Basketball Men's U19 team to a gold medal in the FIBA U19 World Championships. He later in the summer was one of only two college players invited to the U.S. men's national team minicamp with 28 NBA players. Smart recently visited with us for a story for Go Pokes Magazine. Here is part one of excerpts from that interview.

Question: You came out of the game against Oregon in the NCAA Tournament after injuring your wrist. How's the wrist?
Smart: It's a lot better since last May. A lot better. It's getting a lot stronger and I'm able to do a lot more now that I couldn't do it. Actually, going into my senior year of high school I fractured both of my wrists. I fractured it right before my last year of high school and was in a cast for a little bit. I took the cast off early because I was ready to start school ball, so it didn't really heal properly. Toward the end of the Oregon game, it kind of rattled some things when I came down on it. (There was) some scar tissue, and it really affected my wrist.

Thank God I didn't have to have any surgery. (The doctors said) don't use it for a while and try not to use it as much as possible. Just let it heal up. Like I said, it's some old stuff that happened in the past that as you would say rewoke it. It just needed some rest. I would say it's about 90 percent and it's getting stronger day by day. I've been lifting weights with it, so that's a good thing. It hasn't been that sore lately. It's getting back to where I need it to be.

Question: You shot 40.4 percent from the field and only 29.0 percent on three-pointers last season. Has that been something you've been working to improve during the offseason?
Smart: Definitely. That's been one of my major emphasis. A lot of teams are going to drop off me this year (if I don't improve my shooting).

Question: What would be an acceptable percentage of made three-pointers next season?
Smart: Definitely in the 40 (percent) range from the 3-point arc. Like you said, you can't make all your shots but that's a darn good percentage right there from the distance. Forty percent I would say would be a great goal for me to reach this year.

Question: You were one of only two college players invited in July to the U.S. men's national team minicamp with 28 NBA players. How much did going against the NBA players help you?
Smart: It helped me a lot. I got to learn from a lot of great players. Kyrie Irving (of the Cleveland Cavaliers) is one of the great guards in the game today, and all of those guys there are great players. You had Paul George (from the Indiana Pacers), Dion Waiters (from Cleveland), Damian Lillard (of the Portland Trail Blazers), all those guys there are great players and they've been doing this for a while. They had to go through what I'm going through (now) when they started off.

Question: As one of the only college players, were those guys willing to share with you? Did they accept you?
Smart: They didn't treat me like an outsider. When I first stepped on the court everybody knew who I was and they came up and greeted me. They said how glad they were to have me there, said they'd been watching me and can't wait to see me up there at the next level. It made me feel great because for somebody at the next level like that to say, we know who you are and we've been watching, we respect you and who you are, that means a lot for me being a 19-year-old kid. For those type of guys to say that to me, it means a lot.

Question: Kyrie Irving was quoted as saying about you, "He's a great player that can play with us at this level." What do you think when you read that quote?
Smart: It's unbelievable. Kyrie is one of the greater guards to have played the game of basketball and for him to say that means a lot. It just keeps me going and motivated to keep working hard to get to the next level.

Question: What did you learn about yourself?
Smart: I'm a lot better than I think I am. Sometimes I don't give myself the credit that I deserve. Like I said, I am a lot better than what I give myself credit for.

Question: After going up there and seeing that you could compete with those guys, do you have any regrets at all about coming back for your sophomore season?
Smart: Not at all.

Question: Not even an inkling?
Smart: I'd be lying if I would sit here and told you that I didn't have any regrets. But at the same time, who wouldn't? I also would have had regrets it I had went (to the NBA), about coming back also, right? This is a once-in-a-lifetime deal. You can always go play in the NBA, or tryout. You can't come back and tryout for college once you leave. You only get one shot at this and you better make it count. I'm planning to take full advantage of it.

(Editor's note: Check back later this week for part two of our visit with Smart.)

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