- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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1. Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart is having quite a summer and being rewarded for his service. His efforts will play well with the USA men's national team and ultimately earn him unlimited respect among NBA personnel decision makers. Smart decided to return for his sophomore season at Oklahoma State, turning down a lock to be a top five draft pick. Then, he was cool with being one of the contributors instead of the go-to player on the gold-medal winning FIBA U-19 USA team in Prague. Smart was then honored by being the only collegian chosen as part of the select team that will practice and scrimmage on display for national team coach Mike Krzyzewski and USA Basketball CEO Jerry Colangelo next week in Las Vegas. "It's a great opportunity for him to compete against the best,'' said Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford. "He will learn a lot on the court, but also away from the court. I'm excited he will be able to talk and get to know many of these great pros, pick their brains on what it's like to be in the NBA and what it takes to become a great pro.'' What's next for Smart? Well, he's got to lead Oklahoma State to a Big 12 title over Kansas and make a deep run toward a Final Four. No, actually he just has to continue being a high character winner for the Cowboys.
2. VCU and Northeastern are in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic but are on opposite brackets. VCU will host Northeastern on Nov. 29 in a "fourth" game as part of the tournament. But it allows the two schools to renew a CAA game that was worthy of attention when the two were in the same league. And if they were to play twice in the same season then what's wrong with that? The Las Vegas Invitational shouldn't have worried about UCLA and Missouri still playing against each other on Dec. 7 in Columbia. So what if they end up playing twice in the same season? The Invitational would have had more appeal if it were a true tournament format instead of set matchups of UCLA and Missouri playing Nevada and Northwestern. Creighton and Marquette are both in the Wooden Legacy and are in the same conference now (Big East). Marquette also had a scheduled game against Arizona State yet both are in the Wooden Legacy. Memphis and Oklahoma State are scheduled to play, yet both are in the Old Spice Classic -- on opposite sides of the bracket. UCLA and Missouri could have done this as well and run the risk/gamble/chance of playing twice for two quality games.
3. The USA World University Games team finished a disappointing ninth in Kazan, Russia, but the kinship of the staff clearly is going to have shelf life. Michigan coach John Beilein and South Carolina coach Frank Martin, who were assistants to Davidson's Bob McKillop, were quick to tweet out how much they enjoyed coaching together. Martin tweeted spending time with Beilein and McKillop was "unreal. They're brilliant basketball minds and better men. USC basketball just got better." Beilein tweeted, "I will always cherish my 24 days with this team and staff. Bob McKillop + Frank Martin and I have a bond now that will last forever. USA!!" This was Beilein's first time -- ever -- being an assistant. The sharing of ideas is what coaching should be about at any level and the best of USA basketball is when a staff can get along, discuss each other's strengths and improve each other's program.