Wednesday at Grit and Grind Skills Academy at Gallagher-Iba Arena
By Jason Elmquist CNHI
DeAndre Young had just one thing on his mind when NBA All-Defensive First teamer Tony Allen came baring down on him — just shoot it.
“He was coming at me and I just had to get a shot up quick,” said Young, 12, of Bartlesville during the Grit and Grind Skills Academy Wednesday at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
The camp, presented by the former Oklahoma State standout, drew a large attendance over its three days on the Stillwater campus — all of which was free to those campers attending.
“I always look at how I grew up. There weren’t any NBA players or no college players coming back to set an example,” Allen said. “That’s basically what I’m doing. I’m trying to give somebody the motivation to work hard, go out there and compete.”
Allen arrived to the camp Wednesday morning and got the chance to interact with the campers. After giving some instruction to some of the younger campers, Allen laced it up and played some 3-on-3 with the older campers.
That’s when Young found himself being guarded by one of the NBA’s top defenders. And after several blocked shots, Young thought he had his opening atop the key. But Allen closed the gap and missed blocking the shot — instead taking out the 12-year-old camper, who just got right up and brushed it off.
“Anytime I get on the hardwood, I’m competing 110 percent — I even fouled a kid today,” said Allen, who was named the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year in 2004, the same year the Cowboys made it to the Final Four under coach Eddie Sutton. “That was kind of rough. But I’ve got to win.”
Young wasn’t the only camper to feel the brunt of Allen going 110 percent during the camp.
Braden Brown, 17, of Yukon matched up a little better with Allen, who recently re-signed with the Memphis Grizzlies after they knocked out the Oklahoma City Thunder in the latest NBA playoffs. Brown stood his ground, getting several back-door buckets on Allen, while also trying to keep up with the NBA guard on defense.
In one instance, Allen attempted to drive on the Yukon native, who slipped in front of the ex-Cowboy — who instinctively put up his forearm to create space.
“He pushed off. In the NBA that’d also be a foul,” Brown said.
Getting to go up against the ex-Cowboy was a dream come true for Brown, who will be a senior in high school.
“It was like re-living every single one of my dreams as a kid. It was incredible,” Brown said. “I remember watching him play when they went to the Final Four and was like, ‘I want to play with that guy.’ Now I finally get to do it. It’s just incredible.”
Jason Elmquist is sports editor of The Stillwater NewsPress.
By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER —Sounding like a college kid who had just been woken up after a long night of studying for finals, Marcus Smart is spending the last few weeks before the new school year to catch up on rest and relaxation.
Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Smart is enjoying his final moments of freedom before the pressures of season and the Oklahoma State program weigh on his 19-year-old shoulders.
“It feels good to be able to get somewhat of a break,” Smart said. “It’s been a long summer, playing with the USA team over in the Czech Republic for that amount of time, going to the NBA mini-camp, it’s just been a real long summer of basketball. It’s going to be some good rest for my body.”
The rest is well deserved, too.
For the second straight summer, Smart has been busy traveling the world and playing basketball.
Smart was a member of the USA Basketball Men’s U19 team that traveled to Prague, Czech Republic, for the FIBA U19 World Championships. Smart led the team to the United States’ second gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championships since 1995.
“It’s a great experience. No many 18- or 19-year-old kid can say they did that,” the Oklahoma State sophomore said. “A lot of people would trade places with me any day. It was just an incredible experience getting to do that.”
Smart admitted the summer schedule heading into college might have played a part in him at times looking and playing sluggish during the season — which didn’t hinder his ability to earn Big 12 Conference Freshman and Player of the Year honors and get the program back to the NCAA Tournament.
But he says the work and travel this summer won’t grind on him as much as a year ago.
“Last year I wasn’t really used to it and with going to college for the first year, my body wasn’t really used to all that stress,” Smart said. “But this year I’ve got a little more of a break in between before we actually start back up and my body is used to it now and knows what it feels like. This break is going to help my in a major way because it gives my body that break that it needs for all the stress it’s been under. So I don’t feel I’ll be as worn down as I was last year.”
After winning gold in Prague as the team captain, Smart received recognition on higher level.
With two gold medals under his belt, the Flower Mound, Texas, native was one of just two college players to earn an invitation to attend USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini-Camp — along with Creighton’s Doug McDermott.
At the mini-camp, Smart went up against players already established in the NBA — including point guards Kyrie Irving, the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year and John Wall, 2011 NBA All-Rookie First teamer.
“You learn a lot out there. You see what they go through every day with the competition and how they perform on a daily basis,” the Cowboy point guard said. “It really just helps you in the long run.”
Smart also gained some press during his trip to Las Vegas for something he said about his future.
In an interview, the OSU sophomore stated that if he stays healthy this season, it would be his last at Oklahoma State.
“I was just answering a question, honestly. It was kind of obvious though,” Smart said about the comment. “I stayed another year to give myself another year to get ready for the next level.”
With it already out there that he plans to enter his name for the 2014 NBA Draft, Smart’s hopes that it will be one less distraction during the season.
“I feel that this will squash a lot of those questions that people asking me about it,” Smart said. “They know now, and hopefully they won’t continually ask me. I feel like establishing that will take a little bit of that pressure off me.”
Jason Elmquist is sports editor of The Stillwater NewsPress.