Despite winning the national championship, Louisville Cardinals guard Russ Smith reportedly isn't finished with college.
UPDATE: Wednesday, April 24 at 1:15 p.m. ET by Sam Westmoreland
It's official: Russ Smith will remain at Louisville for his senior year, according to Rick Bozich of WDRB. Previously, it was believed that the shooting guard would declare for the draft.
Russ Smith staying at Louisville for senior year.4/24/2013, 5:03:35 PM
According to Louisville radio host Drew Deener, the electrifying junior will return to school for his senior season:
After accomplishing seemingly everything from a team perspective, many believed that Smith was as good as gone for the NBA—especially when his dad confirmed as much.
Jeff Goodman @GoodmanESPN
Rick Pitino told CBSSports on Russ Smith decision: "Just spoke with him. He will make up his mind tomorrow after we talk. 50-50."4/24/2013, 1:04:19 AM
Nevertheless, as Deener points out, Smith has been told he has plenty of room to improve his draft stock:
But that reckless style is part of what defines Russdiculous, and I’m not exactly sure I can get on board with less of that—although I bet the Cardinals faithful don’t care, just as long as he returns.
In 2012-13, Smith led the Cardinals with 18.7 points per contest and added 2.9 assists and 2.1 steals. As a result, he was in the middle of player of the year talk for much of the season.
Smith’s return should boost Pitino's squad right back into the national championship conversation in 2013-14.
Even with Smith, Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng, Louisville was widely expected to contend for an American Athletic Conference championship in its last year in the league. Not only will it return Final Four MVP Luke Hancock, but another year of experience for Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear and Montrezl Harrell should give the Cardinals a dangerous, athletic frontcourt.
Now, instead of asking newcomers Chris Jones or Terry Rozier to lead that group, they will potentially have one of the best players in America to hold down college's most important position.
As you’ll remember, John Calipari’s Kentucky squad preceded Louisville's title with a national championship in 2012. With the Wildcats’ incoming class and this news of Smith’s return to Louisville, the rubber match between the Kentucky schools promises to be scintillating.