Smart, Forte Excited To Be Cowboys

The Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus tandem of Marcus Smart and Phil Forte are set to move on to Stillwater to join Travis Ford and Oklahoma State next season. Wednesday is the beginning of the fall signing period for basketball and both players took the time for an exclusive interview with GoPokes.

The Marcus High School stars committed to the Cowboys on Nov. 9 but they certainly weren't a package deal.

Phil Forte, a three-star point guard, didn't want schools to be interested in him just as a way to get to Smart, who is rated as the No. 4 shooting guard in the country and a five-star prospect.

And that's when Oklahoma State and coach Travis Ford got his attention because of the type of player Ford was at Kentucky and how he has utilized the unique skill set of Cowboy guard Keiton Page over the past three seasons.

In fact, Page had a lot to do with the Pokes landing the pair.

"That was a big, big attraction and ended up being one of the main reasons I'm going there," Forte said. "I've seen Keiton play a lot of minutes as a three or four year starter and Travis Ford is great with him and finding ways to use someone with that skill set in an effective way.

"I really like how he uses his guards and I know he can help me and teach me a lot of things that will allow me to become a better player. I really feel like I'm a fit for his system and it is similar to what we do here (at Marcus)."

Ford's decision to recruit Forte independently of Smart proved the be the right move.

"Phil was adamant from the beginning of the recruiting process that he would not be a tag-along to Marcus and coach Ford recruited Phil independently of Marcus," Marcus High coach Danny Henderson said. "He made it very clear that they wanted Phil regardless or whether Marcus went to OSU. I thought that was very, very wise on coach Ford's part and he ended up landing both of them."

OSU's recruitment of Forte got Smart's attention. Smart, the nation's 14th-rated overall player, decided to join him as a Cowboy after visiting Stillwater.

"The environment and the atmosphere around the whole program caught my attention (when I visited)," Smart said. "Everything about it was nice. There wasn't a thing I didn't like."

And another thing he liked: the opportunity to continue to play with his longtime friend.

"I'm very excited; very, very excited," Smart said. "Me and Phil have been playing together since like third grade. It's just going to be a great experience and opportunity to be able to continue to play with a friend and a teammate that you've had you're whole life. We have experience together and chemistry together and continuing it will be incredible."

The two are key returning players for their defending 5A state championship team in Texas Henderson said OSU is a great fit for the boys.

"I'm thrilled and I'm very confident in Ford and coach (Chris) Ferguson and coach Butch Pierre," Henderson said. "I haven't gotten to know coach (Steve) Middleton very well yet but I know they are going to take good care of the kids and give them the discipline, love and care they are going to need over the next several years. We all down here are very excited for the boys and for Oklahoma State.

"I went up there for their football homecoming and I saw right off the appeal that Oklahoma State has. That's a special place. The community support and how everything centers on OSU made the whole feeling electric. I think the boys made a great choice."


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