For years, Marcus Smart has heard the comparisons.
“It’s been Jason Kidd, Dwyane Wade — those two players,” the Oklahoma State freshman point guard said. “With my size, my ability to pass the ball and my IQ of the game, a lot of people mention that.”
Smart and the Cowboys (24-8) face Pac-12 regular-season champion Oregon (26-8) in an NCAA tournament opener Thursday at HP Pavilion — 20 years after Kidd, as a freshman point guard, led Cal to an upset of two-time defending national champion Duke and into the Sweet 16.
Smart was barely a year old at the time, but ever since his junior high days he’s been compared to Kidd.
“I just feel honored even to be mentioned in the same category as those type of players,” Smart said. “Jason Kidd is one of the greatest point guards who ever played the game.”
Physically, they are similar. Kidd was 6-foot-4, 210 pounds as a freshman at Cal. Smart is 6-4, 225.
Their freshman season stats are comparable:
Kidd averaged 13.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 3.8 steals.
Smart averages 15.4 points, 5.7 rebounds. 4.2 assists and 2.9 steals.
“Body-wise, how they approach the game, I’d say that’s a pretty good comparison,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. “They both play with a reckless abandon. Jason Kidd, especially early in his career, how physical he was as a point guard. In those aspects, they’re very similar.
“The difference is Marcus Smart didn’t play point guard until this year. Jason Kidd grew up being a point guard,” Ford said. “Marcus has done an incredible job of adapting. On his high school team he brought the ball up court, but no one ever said, `You are our point guard. Here’s the basketball.’ In that way they’re a little different.”
Smart, the Big 12 Player of the Year, said he’s been viewed most of his career as a combo guard.
“To be honest, they didn’t know what position to put me at,” he said. “I was bigger than most of the kids, but my skillset was much more advanced than most of the kids.
“They looked at me as being a little small to be a power forward but a little big to be a point guard.”
There is one more way the two are similar: Smart is projected by the website NBAdraft.net to be the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft.
That’s just where Kidd was taken in 1994.