Saturday, September 10, 2011
Updated: September 12, 2:00 PM ET
Marcus Smart, Phil Forte pick OSU
By Dave Telep
It took more than 18 months of recruiting by Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford, but on Friday, the work paid off.
During their visits to Stillwater, Okla., shooting guards Marcus Smart and Phil Forte -- teammates at Flower Mound (Texas) -- Smart committed to play for the Cowboys.
"Me and Phil, we're going to Oklahoma State," Smart said. "We had a feeling, me and Phil, that we wanted to play together. Then bam, this was the right place for us."
Smart, 6-3 and 200 pounds, is a five-star prospect and the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2012, while Forte, 5-10 and 175 pounds, is the No. 46 shooting guard.
The two had two common options: Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Forte also liked Boise State and was planning to visit the Broncos later this month.
Smart had the Sooners, Texas and North Carolina on his list.
In essence, the teammates had two separate decisions that converged into one.
"I felt [Oklahoma State] fit me very well and I think Phil thought that it was a proven fact that a player of his caliber and his size was guaranteed to play here in a big-time environment," Smart said. "Keiton Page was the example. Phil thought if [Page] could do it, he could, too."
During the process, Smart knew that some schools were using Forte to get in Smart's good graces. Oklahoma State offered Forte separately almost a year ago; it was a genuine offer and it stood even if Smart wasn't part of the equation.
"We were very timid about people using Phil to get to me or the other way around," Smart said. "We just felt Oklahoma State was recruiting us individually, not as a package deal. It was Phil first, and then it was Marcus first; it wasn't Marcus and Phil together."
These commitments are big deals for the Cowboys. Smart and Forte combined to go 90-14 in three years of high school ball, including a state championship and two final fours. Smart is expected to be named to every All-American team in the spring, starting with the McDonald's team.
He's one of the biggest winners and fiercest competitors in high school, orchestrating a high school state championship and a pair of Super 64 titles in his grassroots career.
Forte, a sharpshooter, is capable of shooting better than 40 percent behind the 3-point line -- a benchmark for collegiate marksmanship. It's highly likely that Ford saw a lot of himself in Forte.
The pair have been friends since third grade and "The Big General" and the "Little General" are taking their show on the road. At OSU, they'll room together and it'll be smooth sailing, except for one big decision.
"I like the room cold and he likes it hot, so we'll have at it, I'm sure," Forte said.
Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. His college basketball scouting service is used by more than 225 colleges and numerous NBA teams. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.