Should Louisville's Russ Smith Be On Jay Bilas' College Basketball Breakout Stars List?

By Jon Hancock
Russ Smith Louisville Cardinals
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville‘s Russ Smith, aka Russdiculous, has had a very impressive year so far. Although this is surprising for most, to Louisville fans this is pretty much what was expected out of the 6’0″ junior. ESPN’s college basketball analyst, Jay Bilas, found his play so surprising that he put Smith in his list of six breakout stars of this season.

Bilas broke down his list in his weekly report, in which he said Russ Smith is the third biggest breakout star so far this season.

So should Smith be put on this list along side Duke‘s Quinn Cook and Indiana‘s Victor Oladipo? Smith had shown that he could score last year, although coach Rick Pitino limited his minutes. Last year, Smith averaged 11.5 points and 2.2 steals per game, playing 21.5 minutes each game. This year, Pitino has let Russdiculous loose a little bit, allowing him to play an average of 28.6 points per game. Smith is averaging 18.2 points and 2.1 steals so far this year.

What is interesting about Smith is that he is not your normal Pitino-type basketball player, in fact, he might not be anyone’s normal college basketball player. Former Louisville basketball player Perrin Johnson once told me he had never seen a player like Smith.

The one thing that has been most surprising is his progression as a complete basketball player. Smith is mostly known for his ability to shoot shots quickly, whether they are good shots or not. But he has improved as a great on the ball defender and is also becoming a decent rebounder, at least for a 6’0″, 170 lbs. guard.

Russ Smith was once thought of just a good guy to have off the bench to give Louisville a spark. There is no doubt that he has become a college basketball star. After all if Rick Pitino names a horse after you, you must be good right?


Follow Jon Hancock on Twitter @JonKYSportsco.

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