Ford Pleased With Recruiting Haul

Wednesday was the first day of the fall signing period for college basketball recruiting and it sure didn't take long for Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford and his staff to wrap up their impressive class. All three players in this year's class had sent in their signed letters of intent by 9 a.m.

All three players in this class are eager to be Cowboys and coach Ford is happy to have them.

Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus shooting guard Marcus Smart headlines the class, which is ranked No. 15 nationally at this point by Scout. Smart is a versatile 6-foot-3 guard/forward combo who can play any position on the floor with the exception of center because of his strength, speed and athleticism.

Smart is a five-star recruit and he is rated as the No. 4 shooting guard in the class of 2012 and the No. 14 player overall. He is regarded as one of the best winners in the class and has a reputation for out-working everybody else on the floor.

Smart chose Oklahoma State over a long list of offers that included Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas and North Carolina.

"Marcus Smart is a guy that can play one, two, three or four," Ford said. "Overall, he's just a winner. He plays with a level of energy that hasn't been matched by many people I've seen. He's the ultimate, ultimate competitor. He'll rip your heart out."

"He can really shoot it for his size; he can get down there and bang it. He's athletic and can rebound and he does all these things for his high school team … He's probably the most versatile player in the class of 2012 when you're talking about a guy who, when you ask anybody about him, everybody will say, ‘Wow, he's a winner and he can do anything to help you win … He's a great leader and it's very contagious."

Smart's high school teammate and long-time friend Phil Forte is also coming to Stillwater and he's bringing a fantastic reputation with him. Forte is considered by some to be the preeminent shooter in this year's class nationally and, between he and Smart, have compiled a 90-14 record at Marcus High School and are the defending state champions in Class 5A. Forte is an adept ball handler and a savvy defender, who outsmarts the majority of people he faces. Forte is a three-star prospect and is the No. 27 point guard, according to Scout.

Forte chose the Cowboys over Kansas, Iowa, Kansas State, SMU and Texas Tech.

"You look at a young man like Phillip Forte, he's probably the premier shooter in the country," Ford said. "I have not even really seen a close second. He can really, really shoot and that's probably his No. 1 strength but his other strengths are that he is really strong at the point with the ball in his hands. He can create and he's a really good ball handler. It was interesting to see Phillip play this summer because the better the competition, the better he played. They played against the best competition in the country second-to-none with his AAU team. It was impressive to continue to watch him raise the level of his game all summer long.

"He's used to winning; he goes to the gym before school every morning; he somebody that, after we lose Keiton Page, can be similar to that … we're very excited about him."

Last but certainly not least is power forward Kamari Murphy from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Murphy, who graduated from high school in Brooklyn, N.Y., last year chose to attend the prep school to get bigger and stronger as he is young at just 17 years old.

Murphy came on strong in the summer circuit and landed offers from Auburn, Connecticut, Georgia, Miami (FL) and West Virginia in addition to OSU.

His decision certainly paid off, as evidenced by the offer sheet, and he has developed into an excellent post defender and shot blocker while playing at one of the nation's elite academies.

"Kamari is an ultra-athletic, 6'8 and a half, high motor guy," Ford said. "He just gets raves from his coaches about how hard he works every single day. They say he never has an off day in practice as far as effort. He's an incredible young man with a great attitude and great upside … His athleticism at his size is a fit for our system. He can knock down the 15-foot jump shot with consistency. He needs to work on his low-post game but he has one. Also, with the way we play he could be one of the premier shot blockers because of his athleticism and how he runs. He just has an extremely high motor. Going to prep school for a year is only going to help him get bigger and stronger so he can come in here and be ready to play."

Ford is pleased with the quality and depth of the class. All three are natural fits for his system and for the hard working, winning culture he is building in Stillwater.

"They all have distinct individual skills but they all have one thing in common: they are all high-character guys that are used to winning," Ford said. "They love to play the game. All three of them are gym rats. I've heard from everybody that's ever coached them that those three guys just live in the gym 24 hours a day. All three of these guys fir my personality and I'm excited about them."

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