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OSU's Smart Says KU Phenom Has Much To Prove

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Kansas newcomer Andrew Wiggins is one of the most anticipated incoming freshmen in recent memory in college basketball.

He's been called many things, including the best NBA prospect since LeBron James and potentially the top college freshman ever, but one person isn't buying into all the hype just yet – Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart.

In an interview with USA TODAY over the weekend, the reigning Big 12 player of the year said Wiggins has a lot to prove and seemed to take the preseason talk it a bit personally.

"They are saying he is the best college player there is and he has not even played a game yet," Smart told USA TODAY. "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."

Wiggins has been tabbed by many as not only the top freshman, but also the preseason national player of the year by many pundits, but Smart said he is looking forward to the challenge of proving he's still top dog in the Big 12.

"I am not going to back down from any challenge," he said in the interview. "Like I said, you are going to have to prove to me. I am a fighter; I will keep fighting and will never give up."

And this isn't an attempt at providing the Jayhawks with bulletin-board material, although it might be taken as such. Smart's statements also carried a concerned tone for his soon-to-be rival from Lawrence.

Smart has built a lot of his reputation on his fiery play and ultra-competitive nature. That has not been the case with the laid-back, behind-the-scenes Wiggins.

Many have pointed to Wiggins' calm demeanor as a potential drawback, seeing as how his hype will result in a big target being placed on his chest from opponents looking to prove something and the media spotlight will be substantial.

"I wouldn't say he is overrated," Smart said. "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."

The Cowboys and Jayhawks are the Big 12 co-favorites heading into the season and will face off in the first of two meeting in Lawrence on Jan. 18, 2014. Last season Smart guided the Cowboys to their first victory in Allen Fieldhouse since 1989.

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