Russ Smith Returning to Louisville Next Season

by April 25, 2013

Russ Smith was one of the most exciting players in the entire NCAA tournament, having averaged 22.3 points during his postseason run to the national title. After leading the Cardinals to a 35-5 record and the program’s first NCAA title since 1986, many were expecting the Brooklyn native to make the jump to the NBA, especially after big man Gorgui Dieng announced he was leaving for the Draft. But the 6-1 guard announced yesterday that he was staying put for another year–shocking many. Whether this was the right move or not, only time will tell. From the Courier-Journal: “Meet the new Russ Smith. He is less rash and more reasoned, less impulse and more intellect, a high-wire basketball star who has grown progressively grounded. The University of Louisville’s frenetic guard is learning to temper his impetuous tendencies, to pause and ponder his alternatives instead of forcing issues that are still fluid. Confronted by a tantalizing opportunity to turn pro, Smith oscillated back and forth like a musician’s metronome before deciding Wednesday to stick around for his senior year. He did not choose quickly, but he did choose wisely. He did not make one of his harrowing dribble-drives toward oblivion; he pulled back in order to see the whole floor. Russ Smith has grown up, it turns out, and he may yet grow rich. “He changed his mind to me a couple of times,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “He said, ‘Coach, I’m staying,’ then he sent me a long text that he’s going to go. I said, ‘If you’ve thought about it, I’ll back you up 100 percent, no problem.’ Then the father called me and said, ‘I think he’s staying.’ ”