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Oklahoma State Recruit Smart Impresses
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Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 25 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference.

Mike DeCourcy, the national college basketball writer for The Sporting News, has praise for an Oklahoma State freshman recruit. This was part of DeCourcy's "Starting Five" - a weekly analysis of five burning questions in college basketball this week:

It's no secret that center Nerlens Noel and small forward Alex Poythress must be outstanding for Kentucky to have a shot at defending its title, and Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson must have a transformative effect on UCLA.

One guy who's a little bit less heralded who could be a major player is 6-4 guard Marcus Smart, who'll join LeBryan Nash at Oklahoma State. Smart was a major winner during his travel-team days and is looking like it again as a candidate for the USA Basketball Under-18 national team, which will compete in the FIBA Americas Championship later this month in Brazil.

In only his second day at the trials, Smart already is making an impact.

"There's nothing selfish about him," Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes told Sporting News on Wednesday. "He's always making plays. He'll hit the shot. He gets along with all the guys."

Stokes said when he opposed Smart's team during the initial get-together Tuesday night, "He beat us by making plays and not scoring." Happy to have the chance to join forces in Wednesday morning's session, Stokes said of Smart, "He made my game so much easier."

Smart, by the way, earned a spot on the 2012 USA Men's U18 National Team roster that was announced Sunday. 

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