Oklahoma State stamps itself a 2014 contender

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If the reports are accurate, at 1:30 p.m. today Oklahoma State will stamp itself as one of Kentucky’s top contenders in the battle for the the 2014 national title.

Marcus Smart, perhaps the nation’s best guard this past season, is expected to announce that to the surprise of most people, he will not put his name in the NBA draft and will instead return to Stillwater for his sophomore season.

A 6-foot-4, 225-pound product of Dallas, Smart was named the Big 12 player of the year and won the Waymon Tisdale Award as the nation’s best freshman last season. He averaged 15.4 points and 4.2 assists. He also averaged 5.8 rebounds.

Coach Travis Ford also is expected to have Markel Brown and LeBryan Nash back next year on a team that went 24-9 last season and made the NCAA Tournament after wobbling home at 15-18 the season before. A No. 5 seed, the Cowboys lost to Oregon 68-58 in the second round, but then, we all know that the Ducks were far better than a No. 12 seed.

Draft Express had Smart ranked as the No. 3 pick in its 2013 NBA mock draft. That’s the same mock draft that has ex-UK center Nerlens Noel as the No. 1 overall choice.

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