University of Louisville All-American guard Russ Smith announced on Wednesday that he would return…
'Plenty' of reasons Russ Smith opted to stay
Sure, University of Louisville junior Russ Smith didn't receive the positive feedback he had hoped for from NBA teams. U of L coach Rick Pitino asked around and said he was told Smith would be a second round pick, which had no guarantees, should he come out this season. The uncertainty was certainly a reason for Smith to want to stay in college for his senior season but it wasn't the only reason. The 6-foot-1 Smith announced his decision on Wednesday on front of a jam-packed media room on U of L's campus and in the end looked himself in the mirror and realized he can not only get better but needed to become more mature of a player before eh embarked on his professional career. "I want to be a leader," Smith said. "If I would have left, I think I would have been shooting myself in the foot. I don't think I was mature enough." And then he listed a bunch of reasons to return, including the fact that he wanted to become the first person in his family to get a degree. Smith averaged 18.7 points a game as a junior and led the Cardinals to the school's third NCAA Tournament national championship. "I'm excited and I am happy that is off my back," Smith said. "I'll be ready for next year. I am a winner." Smith said he didn't make his final decision until Wednesday morning, noting that he was back and forth in his mind during recent days. "I realized how much I love playing with my teammates and how much fun it is to win and all of the perks of being a national champion," Smith said. "Coming back for me it was coach, teammates, the Louisville campus and community and graduating and I never really got an official goodbye and that stuck with me. "I really wanted to do Senior Night. It was really just a lot of things as a person I wanted to do. It's just everything." Smith noted that he really was uncertain about his future. "As much smoke as you think I was blowing to everybody, it was really serious," Smith said. "I really didn't know. One day, I told coach I wanted to come back and the next day I said, ‘Coach a big conclusion'. It wasn't until this morning when I woke up that I knew I was coming back." Smith also had a few other – Russ-like – reasons for staying in school. --"My room is dirty," Smith said. "I would have had to clean everything up before I had to leave. Just everything added up." Pitino noted, "that's a good reason." --"I was more so thinking about all of the new guys and all of the new jokes I would have for them coming in. When I came in as a freshman (Preston Knowles) used to laugh at me after my first individual. I want that chance as a senior to laugh at the new guys after their first individuals." Pitino said when the news came out that Smith was going pro just after the title game it "was really premature" because they hadn't talked about it. "I told Russ to take the week off, it's your birthday and go out and celebrate a little bit," Pitino said. "He has a lot of goals that he still wants to accomplish. He has become one of the premier guards in the nation. ". . . He told me he wanted to defend the title, he wanted to be a first round pick and he wanted to get a degree. He asked if he could be one of the leaders now that Peyton (Siva) is gone and I said he could be if he wants to be. I am really proud of him. He's been tremendous for this community and this basketball program."
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