NBPA: The Smart Effect

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. ---- You don't find many high schoolers on the summer circuit that prioritize defense. Marcus Smart's game leaves no doubt about his priorities.

"At my high school, all we practice is defense," he said. "Our slogan is: ‘Defense wins games.' We pride ourselves on defense."

That mentality was evident in Smart from the start of the NBPA Top 100 Camp.

"Coming out here against the best guys in the country, I was fired up to show that I can stop them," he said.

"You go out and feel them, test the waters, and see how guys play under pressure. If they can't, you get up in them more. Out here it's all for one – they're coming out to try to embarrass you, so you're going to try to embarrass them on defense."

Scouts in attendance raved about the class of 2012 guard's performance Thursday against Top 20 prospect Rasheed Sulaimon, a fellow Texan that Smart has known since the third grade.

For Smart it isn't just a matter of footwork or assertiveness. He's a lockdown defender in part because of the physicality he brings with his thick 6-3, 210-pound frame, outmuscling opponents to the point where on one occasion he just ripped the ball out of Sulaimon's hands.

That physical style also extends to rebounding and even to offense.

"My mindset was get to the paint to create for myself and others," said Smart, who punished a couple of defenders who got in the way of his objective.

He admits his shot and ball handling ability could use further refinement, but it's that ability to create for teammates, plus his intangibles, that has made him a versatile perimeter player – and has earned him a prominent spot on Roy Williams's recruiting board.

"I'm a combo guard - I can make plays, make the right pass at the right time, and I can also score," he said. "I'm a leader on the court. I'm not one of those guys that's all about the glamour. I trust my teammates and play a team game. (Coach Williams) said he really likes how I played and hustled for loose balls."

Smart is looking at North Carolina, as well as just about the entire Big 12. He declined listing a favorite or group of favorites, but spoke to the significance of the scholarship offer he received from UNC this past spring.

"Roy Williams is a great coach, that's a great program that's been successful over the years," Smart said. "He's pretty high in my book. Being able to get that offer from Roy Williams himself is unbelievable." Smart has never been on UNC's campus, which is something he hopes to change in the coming months.

"That's something that may be in the cards," he said of a trip to Chapel Hill. "With my schedule I'm still trying to figure out how and when – it's just been crazy, but I'm trying to get there soon.

"I'm still not sure where I want to go, I'm still feeling it out and see what the best fit is for me. I'll take all my visits and then decide when I get through with them. I'm really trying to get it over with before my season starts."

Marcus Smart Profile

Inside Carolina Top Stories