Skip to content

It’s official: Russ Smith is returning to Louisville for his senior season

Apr 24, 2013, 1:21 PM EDT

University of Louisville's Smith fights to get shot off under pressure from Colorado State's defense NCAA basketball game in Lexington

Louisville will be Russdiculous for one more season, as Russ Smith officially announced that he will be returning to campus to play his senior season for the Cardinals.

Smith and his father originally said after the national title game that he would be entering the NBA Draft, but in the weeks since then, the younger Smith has had a change of heart.

“If I would have left, I think I would have been shooting myself in the foot,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. “I don’t think I was mature enough.”

“As much smoke as you thought I was blowing to people, I really didn’t know. I was really unsure until I woke up this morning.”

(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

I’m glad that Russ is back, as it’s not a secret that he’s one of my favorite players in the country to watch. That said, I’m not convinced that this is the best decision for him from a professional standpoint. I don’t think that his stock can get any higher, and the improvements that he’s going to have to make if he wants to convince NBA scouts that he’s worth a first round pick — better decision making, playing the point more, improved perimeter shooting — are precisely the kind of adjustments that will hurt him playing in Rick Pitino’s system.

But if Smith doesn’t think that he’s ready for the lifestyle of being a professional basketball player, than he made the right decision to return to school. He’ll be leaving with a degree, and frankly, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter when you leave school. If you’re an NBA player, you’re an NBA player.

The bigger story here is that Smith’s return all of a sudden makes Louisville a national title contender again. Their back court is absurdly loaded. Smith will team up with JuCo transfer and former top 50 recruit Chris Jones as well as talented freshman Terry Rozier, who could have contributed to Louisville this season had he not needed to prep a year. Kevin Ware should be returning at some point next season, while Luke Hancock and Wayne Blackshear will also return.

With Chane Behanan coming back to school as well, the most important player on Louisville for next season is going to be Montrezl Harrell. The big fella is long and explosive and aggressive, and his had stretches this season where he was dominant. But he also went through bouts of inconsistency, the typical growing pains of a sophomore. If he comes a guy that can averages 12 points and eight boards, blocking a couple of shots and spending the season as a dominant presence in the paint, Louisville will once again be a national title contender.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Highlights from San Francisco’s ‘Hilltop Hoopsfest’ event (VIDEO)

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:57 PM EDT

    Rex Walters AP

    Junior forward Mark Tollefsen may be one of the best dunkers in America.

  2. Louisville takes next step in season preparations with their annual Red-White Scrimmage

    Oct 19, 2014, 8:49 PM EDT

    Chris Jones, Dillon Avare Chris Jones, Dillon Avare

    Chris Jones’ three-pointer in the final seconds gave the White team a 75-72 win over the Red.

  3. Fractured foot to sideline Maryland forward 4-6 weeks

    Oct 19, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT

    Evan Smotrycz AP

    Evan Smotrycz was re-evaluated Saturday after suffering the injury at the end of practice Friday.

  4. Durand Johnson returns in Pittsburgh’s Blue-Gold Scrimmage

    Oct 19, 2014, 6:36 PM EDT

    Durand Johnson, Zach Gordon Durand Johnson, Zach Gordon

    Johnson last played in live action on January 11, when he suffered a torn ACL in the Panthers’ loss to Virginia.

  5. 6-foot-10 center verbally commits to Colorado State

    Oct 19, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT

    Larry Eustachy Larry Eustachy

    With three of their five seniors being front court players, Colorado State needs to add depth ahead of the 2015-16 season. Sunday’s commitment will help in this area.

  6. Led by senior forward Alan Williams, UCSB capable of earning first NCAA tournament bid since 2011

    Oct 19, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    UCSB's Alan Williams (AP Photo) AP

    Alan Williams gets most of the attention nationally, but he won’t be alone as the Gauchos look to rebound from last year’s disappointing finish.

  7. La Salle gets commitment from 2015 guard

    Oct 19, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Wichita St. v La Salle Getty Images

    La Salle nabbed a talented combo guard.

  8. Kentucky center Dakari Johnson has lost 20 pounds

    Oct 19, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Dakari Johnson AP

    A more mobile Dakari Johnson could be a scary thought.

  9. 2014-15 Big West Preview: UC Irvine, UCSB lead highly competitive race

    Oct 19, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    UC Irvine head coach Russell Turner (AP Photo) UC Irvine head coach Russell Turner (AP Photo)

    An entertaining regular season was followed by a wild conference tournament in 2013-14. Will that once again be the case?

  10. Purdue tests out ultra-big line-up during scrimmage

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT

    A.J. Hammons AP

    Purdue is in the unique position of having two talented centers on the roster.

  11. Freshman Sam Logwood wins New Mexico dunk contest (VIDEO)

    Oct 19, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    adidas adidas

    Freshman wing Sam Logwood of New Mexico can get up.

  12. Three-star guard/forward becomes Texas Tech’s second 2015 commitment

    Oct 19, 2014, 1:10 AM EDT

    Texas Tech Texas Basketball AP

    With Texas Tech’s top two guards being upperclassmen, C.J. Williamson’s commitment is an important one for the program.

  13. Highlights from Arizona’s annual Red-Blue Game (VIDEO)

    Oct 19, 2014, 12:25 AM EDT

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson AP

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led the victorious Red team with 13 points, and Stanley Johnson scored a game-high 17 to lead the Blue team.

  14. Chris Hawkins wins dunk contest at Memphis Madness (VIDEO)

    Oct 18, 2014, 10:59 PM EDT

    Josh Pastner Josh Pastner

    Southwest Tennessee CC transfer Chris Hawkins showed off his jumping ability in winning the dunk contest at Memphis Madness.

  15. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo discusses possibility of a game at The Palestra

    Oct 18, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Michigan State’s played in many different places throughout Izzo tenure, but they’ve yet to visit The Palestra.

  16. UConn unveils championship banners at ‘First Night’ (VIDEO)

    Oct 18, 2014, 8:06 PM EDT

    Geno Auriemma, Kevin Ollie Geno Auriemma, Kevin Ollie

    UConn showed off its new trophies while also paying homage to some former greats during their annual preseason event Friday night.

  17. Indian Hills CC big man to announce college choice Monday

    Oct 18, 2014, 6:43 PM EDT

    Indian Hills Community College Indian Hills Community College

    Arkansas, Iowa State, Rutgers and Washington remain in contention for 6-foot-9 Malik Dime.

  18. Columbia loses two players, including guard who was expected to factor into their rotation

    Oct 18, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    Columbia University Athletics Columbia University Athletics

    Meiko Lyles’ departure means that one of Columbia’s other supplementary pieces will need to step forward.

  19. Report: Auburn commit Trayvon Reed’s trial gets delayed

    Oct 18, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    NBPA Top 100 camp NBPA Top 100 camp

    Trayvon Reed will have to wait until December to continue his legal proceedings..

  20. Behind Thompson and Comer, Dunk City looks to take flight once again this March

    Oct 18, 2014, 3:02 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Both Bernard Thompson and Brett Comer started all three games for Florida Gulf Coast during the 2013 Sweet 16 run. After a one-year hiatus, the Dunk City duo want back in the field of 68.