Russ Smith is the undisputed leader of the Louisville Cardinals after returning for a surprising senior season. He has not disappointed his team as he is currently putting up 17.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game.
As Smith goes, the Louisville offense goes. He is one of the most talented guards in all of college basketball. Despite his small size at just six-foot and 160 pounds, he throws around his body in displays of amazing body control, uses his athleticism to excel in transition, and is the perfect guard to play in an up-tempo system. Smith is fearless and often times uses crossover and hesitation moves to get into the paint and to the free throw line where he shoots a high percentage. His elite speed and lateral quickness are what NBA teams will notice first when scouting Smith as he flies down the court. In an expanded role this season where he is forced to play point guard he has gotten his assist numbers up to just under five per game.
Smith’s main issue is his size. At the next level, almost every player is in supreme physical condition and stature, and as a part-point guard and part-shooting guard, Smith is caught in a tough place. This size makes him a very big defensive liability, especially if he plays the two-guard position. Smith’s best bet is to progress as a ball-handler, but there is not enough of a body of work to view him as one yet.
Right now I’d place Smith in the middle-to-late second round, being picked somewhere between selection 50-to-60.