Return of the POY: Texas' Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart is the returning Gatorade Texas Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Davide De Pas/ESPNHS

The 2011-12 Gatorade State Boys Basketball Players of the Year selection process is underway, and what better way to kick off coverage than with profiles of returning underclassmen winners? Repeating is no guarantee, but here's a snapshot of what this year’s challengers can shoot for.

Name: Marcus Smart

School: Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas)

Grade: Senior

Position: Guard

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 200 pounds

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Texas Boys Basketball Player of the Year. No. 11 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. Led the Marauders (39-1) to the 2011 Class 5A state championship. 2010-11 Class 5A state tournament Most Valuable Player. 2009-10 and 2010-11 Class 5A First Team All-State selection. Three-time district Most Valuable Player.


Academics: B average

College: Oklahoma State University

Extracurricular activities: A member of the Black History Club, he has volunteered locally as an elementary school mentor and as a mentor to special-needs students at his school.

Phil Parlin, head coach of rival Plano (Texas): “Marcus Smart willed his team to a state championship. He refused to let them lose. He has the best combination of desire to win, athletic ability and basketball IQ that I have seen. He did what he had to do so his team could win. That’s a rare thing in today’s basketball.”

Each Gatorade State Player of the Year is challenged by thousands of fellow high school athletes. These are a few of the returning boys basketball underclassmen that also contended in 2010-11.

Isaiah Austin: Senior center, Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas)

Aaron Harrison: Junior shooting guard, Travis (Houston, Texas)

Andrew Harrison: Junior point guard, Travis (Houston, Texas)

Danuel House: Senior forward, Hightower (Sugar Land, Texas)

Justin Jackson: Sophomore guard, Homeschool Christian Youth Association (Houston, Texas)

Emmanuel Mudiay: Sophomore point guard, Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas)

Julius Randle: Junior power forward, Prestonwood Christian Academy (Dallas, Texas)

Cameron Ridley: Senior center, Bush (Fort Bend, Texas)

Rasheed Sulaimon: Senior guard, Strake Jesuit College Prep (Houston, Texas)

A dedicated ESPNHS POY team manages the Gatorade Player of the Year selection process and oversees all research, reporting, comparative analysis and criteria-compliance on the program’s behalf. Candidates are judged on athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders must demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of ESPNU recruit rankings.

To nominate a student-athlete for Player of the Year honors, contact the POY team at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.