In 2013, Russ Smith and the Louisville Cardinals cut down the nets in celebratory fashion, winning the National Championship.
Immediately after the conclusion of the Big Dance, speculation began spreading that Smith’s time at Louisville was over and the 6-foot-1 guard from Brooklyn, New York was headed to the 2013 NBA Draft. Strangely enough, Smith’s father was the one leading those rumors, saying that his son had no reason to return to college.
Well on Wednesday afternoon, just days before the NBA’s deadline for decisions, Smith made the choice to announce to the college basketball world that he was indeed returning to Louisville next season. With head coach Rick Pitino by his side, Russdiculous has another season and college basketball fans should be more than excited about that.
During the NCAA Tournament, Smith averaged 22.3 points per game, a stretch that skyrocketed his draft stock. Smith was projected to be a late first, early second round selection, but now the Louisville guard will have another season to round out his skills and game for the next level. In addition, he will lead the charge in the Cardinals’ title defense in 2013-14.
With Smith’s decision to return, make note that the Cardinals’ leading scorer will instantly be amongst next season’s National Player of the Year candidates. If Smith plays anywhere near the way he did during the Big Dance, the nation should be on alert. With that being said, opponents have been warned of Smith’s excellence in transition and ability to score the basketball with a craftiness about his game in the lane.
Smith for National Player of the Year?
We will have to wait and find out, but don’t for a second think that the Cardinals’ leader isn’t among the early favorites in 2013-14.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS