Evaluating Marcus Smart’s draft stock has NBA executives split in the aftermath of the guard’s actions Saturday.
The Oklahoma State star shoved a vocal Texas Tech fan in the chest with two hands late in a 65-61 road loss on Saturday night. A Texas Tech official told The Oklahoman that as the 19-year-old sophomore was being led to the locker room after the shoving incident, he continuously repeated that the fan called him the "N-word."
DraftExpress.com currently ranks Smart as the sixth-best prospect in this year's NBA Draft.
"His stock is going to take a hit," one NBA general manager told Yahoo Sports. "He has shown in the past few months that he is prone to outbursts. He kicked a chair (against West Virginia). He's under a lot of pressure. The team is not doing well, struggling.
"Fans say things in the NBA every day. He has a history of letting people get under his skin. The NBA fans will test him."
Said an NBA assistant general manager: "Unfortunately for Smart, there is going to be a fallout after this. His reputation has taken a hit. That is all people and the media are going to want to talk about with him before and after the draft. Some teams won't want to deal with that."
Other NBA executives told Yahoo Sports that Smart's incident would not affect their feelings about the guard.
"It seems way out of character for him," one NBA general manager said. "I saw the video of that fan in the past. I can only imagine what he said to the kid."
Said another NBA GM: "I hope not. He would get punished for responding to someone calling him the 'N-word'? Wow."
Said another NBA GM: "Marcus Smart just needs to play better. Pushing some [expletive] will not affect his stock."
One long-time NBA scout said he still likes Smart, is impressed by his athleticism and sees him as a top-five draft prospect. An NBA assistant GM said that he has to hear all the facts before making a determination on Smart and said that his play is hurting him more than the push.
When asked if the push affects Smart's draft stock, another NBA GM said: "No, it's due to his game."
Smart averaged 17.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists as a freshman, but decided to return for his sophomore season despite being projected as a top overall pick in last year's draft. While participating in USA Basketball's senior team mini-camp last July, Smart told Yahoo Sports that he would enter the 2014 NBA draft. Smart is averaging 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists this season.
"He's not a 'can't-miss' talent. He doesn't shoot the ball well enough," one NBA GM said.
Said one NBA assistant GM: "He absolutely should've went to the NBA last year."
One NBA GM said Smart is overhyped. The GM added that Connecticut's Shabazz Napier, Missouri's Jordan Clarkson and West Virginia's Juwan Staten are less-heralded guard prospects who are just as good if not better than Smart.
"[Smart is] a pretty good player, a solid player, but there is a lot of hype," the GM said. "But by no means is he a superstar player. He's tough. Not necessarily a point guard or a shooting guard. He's a guard.
"There are other guards out there just as talented that aren't getting the publicity. He's going to be good, but he is being built up to fail early in his NBA career just like Kansas' Andrew Wiggins is."
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford addressed the incident in a press conference on Sunday night after it was announced that Smart would be suspended three games.
"One day the NBA will get an incredible player and an incredible person that has learned a lot of lessons," Ford said.