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Robb: Marcus Smart Reflects On A Busy Summer

BOSTON (CBS) -- Boston Celtics rookie Marcus Smart could not have asked for a better summer of preparation to ready him for the start of his NBA career.

The journey began in the NBA Summer League down in Orlando. Smart battled against the likes of other top picks such as Nerlens Noel and Aaron Gordon to test his abilities on both ends of the floor.

The next step came in August, when Smart was invited to be a part of the USA Select Team. Smart and Doug McDermott were the only two rookies invited to be a part of the team of youngsters that practiced against the national team ahead of the FIBA World Cup.

Smart faced off against some of the top guards in the league during that training camp including Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Damian Lillard, and Derrick Rose.

Earlier this week while appearing at the Celtics Shamrock Foundation's charity golf tournament at the Dedham Country and Polo Club, Smart reflected on his time facing off with those players.

"That experience was, I would probably say, the highlight of my summer," Smart said. "I was a part of a group of people, a group of young men, who were selected to represent our country. I was one of two rookies, me and Doug McDermott, to be invited to play on the select team. So that's an honor in itself. I've been involved with USA since U-18's and they still keep calling me back. That just shows how much they respect me playing for them, and how much I respect playing and representing my country."

Despite the absence of top stars like Paul George and Kevin Durant, Team USA breezed to a gold medal in Spain earlier this month. Even though he didn't play on the team, Smart still felt like he was a part of that accomplishment.

"I did [feel a part of the victory]. The select team helped those guys get ready to go out there and play against the competition. We were giving them all we had. And they were getting used to playing with each other, and they did well, and now they're gold medal winners," Smart said.

The offseason competition remained just as tough for Smart once he arrived in Boston earlier this month to prepare for Celtics training camp. Waiting for him to match up against during a steady diet of pickup games: none other than Rajon Rondo.

"I've been guarding him and he's been guarding me. It's totally different from what I expected it to be," Smart said of playing alongside Rondo. "I've been saying he's one of the premier guards and he shows it, and his play shows why he is. Some of the things he does on the court, it's like, 'How does he do that?' So just being able to be around him and learn from him is an amazing feeling…it still surprises me, some of the plays that he made. His court vision is unbelievable."

It's unclear just how long Smart and Rondo will remain teammates, given the rumors swirling around Rondo's future. While he has the opportunity though, Smart's appreciating the time spent alongside the All-Star guard.

"I was expecting [Rondo] to be like, 'rookie', kind of shun me, push me to the side, kind of [force] me learn on my own, but it's nice. [Rondo and the veterans] are trying to help and trying to make sure you know everything before you go out there and do it," Smart explained.

Between Rondo's guidance and Smart's experience with the USA Select Team, the 20-year-old guard should be better equipped than any other rookie in the league this season to hit the ground running once the season begins. We'll find out just how well those experiences translate to the hardwood next month.

Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.

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