ESPN Events: Marcus Smart

Puerto Rico Tip-Off impacts NBA Draft

June, 29, 2014
Jun 29
Led by tournament MVPs Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State and Nik Stauskas of Michigan, nine players that have participated in the last three Puerto Rico Tip-Off were selected Thursday in the National Basketball Association Draft.

Smart and Stauskas were the most valuable players at the 2012 and 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off, respectively, as Oklahoma State won the title two years ago by defeating North Carolina State 76-56 in the finals while Michigan dropped a 63-61 decision in the championships game last season to Charlotte.

Smart, who scored 51 points, grabbed 25 rebounds and handed out 13 assists in the three Puerto Rico games in 2012, was drafted sixth overall by the Boston Celtics. In securing the MVP honor at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Smart scored 20 points in the championship game with seven rebounds and seven assists.

Stauskas, who was picked eighth overall by the Sacramento Kings Thursday, led all scorers in the 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off with 70 points, including a 20-point effort in the championship game. He also made 20 of his 39 shots from the field while collecting 12 rebounds and five assists in his three Puerto Rico games.

T. J. Warren of North Carolina State and Mitch McGary of Michigan, who also participated in the previous Puerto Rico Tip-Off, were also selected in the NBA first-round Thursday. Warren, who joined Smart on the 2012 Puerto Rico Tip-Off all-tournament team, was picked 14th overall by the Phoenix Suns while McGary was the 21st overall selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Other players with Puerto Rico Tip-Off experience drafted Thursday by the NBA were Markel Brown (44th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves) of Oklahoma State (2012), Spencer Dinwiddie (38th, Detroit Pistons) of Colorado (2011), Jordan McRae (58th, San Antonio Spurs) of Tennessee (2012), Glenn Robinson III (40th, Minnesota) of Michigan (2013) and Jarnell Stokes (35th, Utah Jazz, 2012 PRTO all-tournament team) of Tennessee (2012).

For previous NBA drafts, here are selections where the players competed in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

2013 Draft

* Reggie Bullock, North Carolina 2010 (pick 25 by Los Angeles Clippers)
* André Roberson, Colorado 2011 (pick 26 by Minnesota Timberwolves, traded to Oklahoma City Thunder via Golden State Warriors)
* Lorenzo Brown, North Carolina State 2012 (pick 52 by Minnesota Timberwolves)
* Colton Iverson, Minnesota 2010 (pick 53 by Indiana Pacers, traded to Boston Celtics)

2012 Draft

* Harrison Barnes, North Carolina 2010 (pick 7 by Golden State Warriors)
* Kendall Marshall, North Carolina 2010 (pick 13 by Phoenix Suns)
* John Henson, North Carolina 2010 (pick 14 by Milwaukee Bucks)
* Tyler Zeller, North Carolina 2010 (pick 17 by Dallas Mavericks, traded to Cleveland Cavaliers)
* John Jenkins, Vanderbilt 2010 (pick 23 by Atlanta Hawks)
* Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt 2010 (pick 30 by Golden State Warriors)
* Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt 2010 (pick 31 by Charlotte Bobcats)
* Kim English, Missouri 2008 (pick 44 by Detroit Pistons)
* Robbie Hummel, Purdue 2011 (pick 58 by Minnesota Timberwolves)
* Marcus Denmon, Missouri 2008 (pick 59 by San Antonio Spurs)

2011 Draft

* Charles Jenkins, Hofstra 2011 (pick 44 by Golden State Warriors)
* Iman Shumpert, Georgia Tech 2009 (pick 17 by New York Knicks)
* Marshon Brooks, Providence 2007 (pick 25 by Boston Celtics, rights traded to New Jersey Nets)
* Lavoy Allen, Temple 2007 (pick 50 by Philadelphia 76ers)

2010 Draft

* Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech 2009 (pick 3 by New Jersey Nets)
* Larry Sanders, Virginia Commonwealth 2007 (pick 15 by Milwaukee Bucks)
* Terrico White, Mississippi 2009 (pick 36 by Detroit Pistons)
* Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech 2009 (pick 46 by Phoenix Suns)
* Dwayne Collins, Miami 2007 (pick 60 by Phoenix Suns)

2009 Draft

* Tyreke Evans, Memphis 2008 (pick 4 by Sacramento Kings)
* DeMar DeRozan, USC 2008 (pick 9 by Toronto Raptors)
* Eric Maynor, Virginia Commonwealth 2008) (pick 20 by Utah Jazz)
* Taj Gibson, USC 2008 (pick 26 by Chicago Bulls)
* DeMarre Carroll, Missouri 2008 (pick 27 by Memphis Grizzles)
* Derrick Brown, Xavier 2008 (pick 40 by Charlotte Bobcats)
* Jack Mcclinton, Miami 2007 (pick 51 by San Antonio Spurs)
* Robert Dozier, Memphis 2008 (pick 60 by Miami Heat)

2008 Draft

* Sonny Weems, Arkansas 2007 (pick 39 by Chicago Bulls, traded to Denver Nuggets)

It’s OK, Thanksgiving can be for hoops, too

November, 20, 2013
Thanksgiving and football go together like oil and vinegar, hot dogs and the Fourth of July, Kentucky and one-and-done star freshmen.

I grew up in Massachusetts, where not only did we sit down and watch the Lions and Cowboys play home games on TV, but we also trudged out in parkas to watch the local high school play its traditional Thanksgiving morning rivalry game. It wasn’t officially the holiday until I stuffed my face, plopped in front of the TV to watch another terrible Lions team and acted like I had dozed off to avoid the annoying relative’s mindless conversation.

But a few years ago, my eye wandered past the gridiron to college hoops, and I admit, I felt slightly ashamed at first. Instead of just that lone Great Alaska Shootout game late-night on the holiday, there were suddenly games spaced throughout the holiday. It didn’t seem right at first, but then I found myself staying on these games a little longer. I’d miss the Lions’ latest three-and-out and no longer did it feel un-American.

Last year I spent Thanksgiving at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, covering Davidson in the Old Spice Classic. I missed just about all of the football that day, but I didn’t really miss it that much. I watched a well-drilled Davidson team and a surprisingly good Gonzaga squad. I watched Bob Huggins rant and rave. I saw three-pointers and dunks and good defensive plays and didn’t really long for the the NFL’s extra point—commercial—kickoff—commercial sequence.

You know what, basketball on Thanksgiving works. “It’s a good thing for college basketball,” College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik said.

And this year there’s plenty to choose from, including Wojcik’s Cougars. I’ll be in Phoenix on Turkey Day, so perhaps you can join me for a Hardwood Thanksgiving. Here's a road map:

10 a.m. for me in Phoenix (noon ET): I successfully avoid donuts 364 days each year, but give in on Thanksgiving. Hey, it’s a diet-busting day anyway, so why not go all out? Join me as I pound mini-powdered donuts and watch a much fitter Marcus Smart lead Oklahoma State against Purdue on ESPN2 in the Old Spice Classic. No doubt some NBA executives will also be watching Smart, who scored 40 points against Memphis this month.

Noon for me (2 p.m. ET): Get the clicker handy. Yes, you’re allowed to take a peek at Packers-Lions, but spend some time on Miami-George Washington from the DIRECTV Wooden Legacy on ESPNU, and Butler-Washington State from Orlando. on ESPN2. See how Miami is faring after losing all five starters from a year ago, and how Butler is holding up after losing coach Brad Stevens to the Boston Celtics.

2:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. ET): Time to race over to the buffet, but be strategic so this buffet not only has white meat, gravy, potatoes and plenty of rolls, but it’s near a TV tuned to ESPN2 and Marquette-Cal State Fullerton from the Wooden. You’ll notice that while Marquette’s Davante Gardner likely beat you to the buffet line, the guy can play.

4:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. ET): I covered Jimmy Patsos when he used the ultimate triangle-and-2 defense to hold Stephen Curry scoreless — and yet lose by 30. You never know what the colorful coach will do, and I look forward to watching him in his first year at Siena try to take down a deep Memphis team from Orlando on ESPN2. It’s OK if you catch the end of Raiders-Cowboys, too.

6:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. ET): Wojcik’s Cougars try to upset San Diego State on ESPNU at the Wooden, while Saint Joseph’s and LSU play in the final game of the day in Orlando on ESPN2. LSU features highly-touted freshman Jarrell Martin, who could be in the NBA a year from now.

9 p.m. (11 p.m. ET): The relatives are likely gone now, so you can settle in without distraction and catch a couple of the nation’s best players square off while picking at the leftovers. It’s Creighton’s Doug McDermott, who has already scored 37 points in a game this season, against Arizona State and speedy guard Jahii Carson on ESPN2. If you dare to miss a Carson fast break, you’re allowed to catch the end of Steelers-Ravens.

It’s just you may forget to click over.

Coming attractions: Carson, Smart

November, 20, 2013
Nearing the end of a long day of driving cross country Tuesday night I got stuck behind an accident in El Paso, Texas. I was tired, cranky and tailgating when I switched my satellite radio to Oklahoma State-Memphis. Then Marcus Smart made me smile.

Dave Hunziker’s voice kept reaching higher octaves as he described one driving layup and three-pointer after another. In the time it took me to go a half-mile, Smart had rolled up 24 points in 11 minutes. No really, he did. Smart finished with a career-high 39 points in No. 7 Oklahoma State’s 101-80 victory over No. 11 Memphis. It made for a much more enjoyable traffic delay, but I still wished I had watched it. Then I remembered everybody gets a chance to see Smart next week.

Smart and the Cowboys (4-0) are in the Old Spice Classic, which starts on Thanksgiving. In fact, Oklahoma State could face Memphis again on Dec. 1 in the final. Think the Tigers might try to come up with some defensive tricks in a rematch?

After finally getting past the wreck and long after my disdain at rubberneckers subsided, I settled into my hotel in Las Cruces, N.M., turned on the TV and stopped at Arizona State-UNLV. And I realized I was missing something big.

Jahii Carson couldn’t miss. And nobody could catch him. The speedy guard had been scoring every which way. You would have thought he was trying to one-up Smart. He did, in a way. Carson finished with a career-high 40 points to lead Arizona State (4-0) to an 86-80 win. I wished I had found the game sooner, but then realized ESPN Events will come to the rescue for me again.

See, Carson and the Sun Devils play in the DIRECTV Wooden Legacy next week, which also starts on Thanksgiving. That’s six opportunities in four days to watch two of the most electric guards in college basketball.

Count me in.

Super Sophomores to Watch

September, 20, 2013
You've no doubt heard plenty of chatter about incoming freshmen in college basketball. You'll have a chance to see ESPN top recruit Andrew Wiggins of Kansas face No. 2 prospect Jabari Parker of Duke in the State Farm Champions Classic on Nov. 12. In that same doubleheader in Chicago, Kentucky's great incoming freshmen class will be on display in a matchup versus Michigan State.

But don't forget about the sophomores. In an era where many of the nation's top players turn pro after one season, there's an intriguing crop of second-year players who could have a major impact in who walks away with the national title next spring.

Fortunately, you'll be able to see a number of them in ESPN Events' early-season tournaments. Here are the top five sophomores to watch:

5. Duke G Rasheed Sulaimon: The 6-foot-4 shooting guard not only contributed 11.6 points a game, but he became Duke's top perimeter defender as a freshman. Now that reinforcements are on the way in Parker and Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood, Sulaimon could give opponents headaches on how to defend the Blue Devils. See how Kansas fares on Nov. 12 at the United Center.

4. Kentucky F Alex Poythress: The 6-7 Tennessee native came to college with plenty of hype, and disappointed some by averaging just 11.2 points and 6 rebounds as a freshman (despite shooting 58 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range). Now with Kentucky's big freshmen class on the way, Poythress will have to perform to get playing time. You'll get a chance to see how he responds on Nov. 12.

3. Michigan F Mitch McGary: The Indiana native carried Michigan to the national title game with a breakout NCAA Tournament. The 6-10 McGary only started two games before he reached another level in the NCAAs. McGary had 25 points and 14 rebounds in a Sweet 16 victory over Kansas. He added 10 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in a Final Four win over Syracuse. Despite projections he'd be a first-round pick, the 21-year-old returned to school. He and the Wolverines will play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Nov. 21-24.

2. Arizona State G Jahii Carson: With Allen Iverson-like fearlessness in driving the lane and a freshman school-record 177 assists, the 5-10 Carson was co-freshman of the year in the Pac-12 last season. Carson led all freshman in the nation at 18.5 points a game. Carson will be one of the most fun players to watch this season, and you'll get a chance to see the speedy guard play in the Wooden Legacy Nov. 28-Dec. 1.

1. Oklahoma State G Marcus Smart: There was disbelief at first when the reigning Big 12 player of the year announced he'd return for his sophomore season. Then pundits immediately began moving the Cowboys higher in their preseason polls. Smart, who was projected as a top-five NBA draft pick, brings scoring (15.4 points), toughness (5.7 rebounds), passing (4.2 assists) and quickness (2.9 steals) to a team that will challenge Kansas for the Big 12 title. Watch Smart play three early-season games in the Old Spice Classic Nov. 28-Dec. 1.