Any other year, Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart might be the preseason favorite for Player of the Year. Most other years don't have a talent like Andrew Wiggins though, the most hyped college basketball player since the year of Kevin Durant and Greg Oden.
Eric Prisbell with USA Today talked with Smart and asked him about the incoming phenom.
"They are saying he is the best college player there is and he has not even played a game yet," Smart told USA TODAY Sports. "Of course that hypes me up. It is all talk. He still has to put his shorts on one leg at a time like I do. It is all potential. I am not saying he can't do it. But he has not done it yet."
Smart already has lived up to his hype, and then some. He is the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year after averaging 15 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and three steals a game for the Cowboys last season. He was lined up as a surefire lottery pick, but Smart eschewed the 2013 NBA Draft for one more year of college.
Smart told Prisbell he is relishing the opportunity to guard Wiggins. He'll have at least two chances, on Jan. 18 and March 1. Until then, Smart is happy to stay out of the limelight that Wiggins will find himself under all season long, no matter how he preforms.
"I wouldn't say he is overrated," Smart says. "I would just say there is a lot of pressure on him right now. He is under a microscope from the world that is bigger than anybody would think, bigger than he knows. Whatever he does will be magnified times a million, just because of the hype. Whatever he says, does, however he acts."
Smart relishes the idea of being an underdog, which isn't really quite true this year. After Wiggins, many consider Smart to be the best player in college basketball, and he's the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 Player of the Year. Many are thinking Oklahoma State has a solid chance at winning the Big 12 over Kansas.
I don't want anything given to me," Smart says. "It has not been [given] at all. I want to work for what I have. If feel if you work for what you have instead of it being just given to you, people respect you a lot more because you understand what it takes, you've been there and done it. No one can just say it was easy because you took it. You didn't just get it. You took it. So all the power and credit to him [Wiggins]. Congratulations for the Sports Illustrated, all the hype, congratulations to him. But that's definitely a lot of pressure on him."
Although Smart's frankness is bound to ruffle a few Jayhawks' feathers, he's only complimentary about Wiggins' basketball abilities. And he's not the first to avoid crowning Wiggins as the king of the college world before he steps onto the court -- that honor belongs to Wiggins' own coach Bill Self.
Of course, it is a bit different for the fan base when it is the coach offering constructive criticism instead of a future opponent. Either way, Smart's comments add just a bit more intrigue to what should shape up to be one of the more explosive Big 12 seasons in recent memory.