By Jim O'Connell, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK —
A lot of people were shocked when Marcus Smart announced he would return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season. Nobody should be surprised the Cowboys point guard was a unanimous selection to The Associated Press’ preseason All-America team.
Smart was on every ballot from the 65-member national media panel Monday, a no-brainer since he was expected to be among the first players chosen if he had declared for the NBA draft. The last unanimous preseason All-America was Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger in 2011-12.
After averaging 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.0 steals last season in winning the Big 12 player of year award, it was how the Cowboys fared in the NCAA tournament that had a lot to do with his coming back.
“I felt like we had a lot more to accomplish,” Smart said of the loss to Oregon in Oklahoma State’s opening game of the NCAA tournament. “We were a lot better team than that. That’s just not the way we wanted to go out. It helped me a little bit to get motivated to come back this year.”
Smart was joined on the preseason All-America team by seniors Doug McDermott of Creighton and Russ Smith of Louisville, sophomore Mitch McGary of Michigan and freshman Andrew Wiggins of Kansas.
The 6-foot-4 Smart, who also won the Wayman Tisdale Award as the country’s top freshman, said he’s also coming back to improve on his 1.3-to-1 assist-turnover ratio and his 40 percent shooting from the field, including just 29 percent from 3-point range.
Still, he said the decision to pass up millions of dollars and return to Stillwater was “the most difficult thing in my life.”