Reversal: Smart Skips Millions to stay in School, Blue Tests NBA Waters
Marcus Smart was expected to be guaranteed $8.7 to $9.7 million in a couple of months despite being in a shooting slump for a good part of his freshman season and having his Oklahoma State team lose in the opening round of the NCAA. In two stunning announcements, Yahoo! Sports announced that Smart announced that he would forgo the money to stay on campus, and CBS Sports reported that Vander Blue of Marquette announced he would leave for the NBA draft despite not being expected to be guaranteed a salary at the draft based on the grid provided April 9 by Breitbart Sports.
Smart was such an overpowering point guard at a solid 6-foot-4, that NBA scouts simply did not care that his jumper was not falling early in the year. Virtually everyone had picked him to go as either the third pick, which requires to team to guarantee almost $8.7 million over two years, or second, where he would get an additional million.
Oklahoma State was a No. 5 seed, but lost to Oregon in the opening round.
Blue had a much better run, as Marquette was one of only four schools to make the Sweet 16 all three years Blue was at Marquette (Florida and Kansas also made their third straight Sweet 16, while Ohio State made their fourth straight).
It took Blue almost two and a half years to find his jumper, as he finally started to look like the 4- or 5-star recruit he was picked to be out of high school. He has not been projected as a draft pick during the season, and while public draft boards often lag behind, even if he is taken in the second round he would not be guaranteed a contract.
If a player enters the draft but does not sign with an agent, he still can change his mind and go back to college.
Yahoo! Sports first announced Smart was staying late Tuesday night, while CBS Sports
guru Jeff Goodman reported on the Blue decision early Tuesday with the quote, "In one of the more baffling, head-scratching decisions of the offseason, Marquette junior guard Vander Blue has opted to leave early for the NBA."
Smart is still only 19, and despite his early season shooting concerns, his 15.4 points and 5.8 assists were enough for him to be named as the top freshman in the country and a 2nd-team AP All-American.
From a pure business perspective, the decision is questionable because next year's draft class is expected to be much stronger - meaning Smart could be passed by a couple of players and lose corresponding millions in salary. He also risks injury such as Jared Sullinger did after a back injury lowered him from a sure lottery pick to middle of the first round.
However, for college basketball fans tired of the "one and done" phenomenia, Smart's decision is welcome news.