I can tell you the exact moment Marcus Smart jumped on to my first-team All-America list, on Feb. 16, when the Cowboys were leading Oklahoma by three with 28 seconds left in overtime. During a timeout Smart told coach Travis Ford that he wanted to defend Sooners guard Steven Pledger, because he believed Pledger was the most likely shooter. Sure enough, Pledger dribbled once to his left and rose. Smart lunged and put his right hand on the ball so cleanly (left) that referees called a held ball. Oklahoma State had the possession arrow, and a second later Smart sealed the 84--79 win with two free throws.
What to call a play that was both a block and a steal. A bleal? Already, Smart's game demands a new vocabulary.
ON THE BALL Smart, a freshman, is the only power conference player to be in his league's top 20 in five major statistical categories.