Remember around this time last week when we were talking about how great the state of college basketball was because of the great play by the top freshmen?
Well, it's time to alter that discussion a bit and add Oklahoma State sophomore Marcus Smart to the list of players that will take the sport by storm all season long.
Smart came out on fire on Tuesday night against Memphis by scoring a career-high 39 points in Oklahoma State's 101-80 victory.
It wasn't just the scoring output of Smart that impressed everyone in the basketball world— including Kevin Durant, who was sitting courtside—it was the overall performance of the sophomore stud that did so.
I talked with Kevin Durant for a few minutes. "Marcus can play in the league right now," Durant told me. "Definitely."— Eric Prisbell (@EricPrisbell) November 20, 2013
Smart shot 11-of-21 from the field, 12-of-16 from the free-throw line and had five steals, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks to round out his night.
Marcus Smart's final line: Career-high 39 pts on 11-21 shooting (5-of-10 from 3). 12-of-16 FTs. 5 steals, 5 boards, 3 assists, two blocks.— David Ubben (@davidubben) November 20, 2013
After his dominant performance against Memphis, who he may see again in the Old Spice Classic championship game on December 1, Smart is ready to take the nation by storm and steal away the National Player of the Year title from the four impressive freshmen and Creighton's Doug McDermott.
The Marcus Smart performance tonight vs. Memphis, Doug McDermott last week and the fantastic four (freshmen) could make quite a NPOY race.— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) November 20, 2013
Smart has the stage in front of him, and the team around him, to steal the spotlight away from anyone that stands in his way of achieving that goal.
Not only is Smart a strong offensive player, but he can also neutralize his opponent's best player on the defensive end.
Is Marcus Smart Now the Favorite to Win National Player of the Year?
Just look at what he did to Memphis star Joe Jackson, who scored a meager six points on Tuesday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Smart pestered Jackson for the entire game, and if that is a sign of things to come, Andrew Wiggins of Kansas better be prepared for the task ahead of him in the two showdowns between the Cowboys and Jayhawks during Big-12 play.
Even if Smart does not record a career-high every time he steps onto the hardwood, he still has a complete team around him that can make him look good in other aspects of the game.
Although he had just three assists on Tuesday, that total could have been much higher if Smart was playing in a closer game.
Smart's ability to draw an extra defender opens up the game for the rest of the marvelous Cowboys backcourt that wasn't even at full strength against Memphis because Phil Forte was ill.
Just by drawing extra attention to himself, Smart could potentially increase the point totals of Markel Brown, Stevie Clark and Forte on any given night.
Brown is an experienced senior who was able to put away 20 points himself in the blowout win over Memphis, while Clark is a developing talent who will add a ridiculous amount of depth to the Cowboys roster when conference play comes around.
Lest we forget Smart's high school teammate and current roommate Forte, who is capable of scoring in double digits in every game as well.
Not only did Smart re-introduce himself to the nation enamored with four freshmen, but he also announced to the college basketball scene that he and the Cowboys are serious about making a national championship run.
With the 19-year-old Smart at the helm of the Cowboys ship, they could sail to new, unimaginable heights by the time the season concludes in Arlington, Texas on April 7.
Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.