No one needs tell Marcus Smart about the money he left on the table.
You don't pass up a chance to be a top-five pick in the NBA draft without having thought long and hard about the dollars and cents involved in a possible life-changing decision.
"I'm aware of how much money I'm giving up," Smart said. "It's a lot of money, but I feel like I made the right decision."
Smart found himself weighing options that, a year ago, many folks in Stillwater probably never batted an eye about. Sure, they knew the 6-foot-4, 220-pound guard from Flower Mound, Texas, was going to be good.
Maybe even star-quality good.
But Big-12-player-of-the-year good?
Smart had the kind of freshman season that can make a dream come true in an instant. All it would have taken is for some NBA team to utter his name on draft day, and he would have had more money than 19-year-olds can even dream about.
Like another young man up the road in Omaha, Smart showed the college basketball world that it's not always just about the money.
Doug McDermott, a few years older than Smart, faced a similar springtime decision.
McDermott decided to return to Creighton for his senior year, partly because there is some unfinished business to take care of this season.
Led by McDermott, the Bluejays played into the third round of the NCAA Tournament each of the past two seasons. He wants to try to take Creighton farther his last time around.
That the Cowboys were a fourth seed in last season's tournament but lost to Sweet 16-bound Oregon also figured into Smart's decision.
"All my life I've been a winner," Smart said. "Back-to-back state championships and to come in and finally make the NCAA Tournament is something I had been waiting for all my life.
"This team felt like we had a lot more to accomplish and we were a better team than that. That is not the way we wanted to go out, and it helped motivate me a little more to come back."
Sometimes it takes a person who has been through a similar experience to fully appreciate a young man's reasoning. Florida's Billy Donovan coached Smart each of the past two summers with the United States' under-18 and under-19 national teams.
"I know a lot of people said he made a mistake," Donovan said. "But he's a great kid, and at the end of the day, he has to do what makes him happy. It was great for college basketball. And I'm sure it made Travis Ford happy, too."
Smart wasn't the only Cowboy to wrestle with the stay-or-go decision. Junior forward Le'Bryan Nash and senior guard Markel Brown also considered turning pro.
All three decided to return, which makes Oklahoma State a front-runner for the Big 12 title.
With those three, slick-shooting guard Phil Forte and most of the other key contributors from a season ago, the outlook is awfully bright in Stillwater.
"We had a great season last year," said Forte, who set an Oklahoma State freshman record for 3-point baskets last season. "But it didn't end the way we wanted it to. That's something in the back of our mind."
Smart and Forte were teammates at Flower Mound, where they helped their school compile a 115-6 record and win two state championships.
As a freshman, Smart led Oklahoma State in scoring (15.4) and assists (4.2) while finishing tied for second in rebounding (5.8). He also led the Big 12 in steals with 99 (3.0 average).
"I don't know that we've played against anybody who controlled the game from the point-guard position like he did," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "It probably hasn't happened since we played against Jason Kidd. He totally controls the game. He's got such a great will."