Is Russ ready?
His dad told AP’s Gary Graves, “At this point, there’s no other reason for him to come back. He’s had two sound years and did it all. He could come back next year but it might jeopardize his health. You’ve got to strike while the iron is hot.”
Here is a little opinion of mine:
His team has just won the National Championship, and the junior had much to do with that. He averaged 22.3 points in the tournament run. Granted, he didn’t have the most amazing night in the grand finale. Still, his stock will never be higher. With Smith, Louisville won back-to-back Big East Tournaments, made back-to-back Final Four appearances and most importantly, won a National Championship.
His detractors point out his height as a potential issue. Staying another year will not make him taller.
The pro-NBA aspects about him, with the exception of a fully developed outside shot, can hardly be better. His defense is exhaustive. He can drive through multiple defenders and is completely crazy enough to do so. And most importantly, he can finish those drives. Most likely, he’ll draw a foul along the way, too.
Smith won’t go early, and once selected, he may not play much. But this is the kid that came to Louisville because Pitino pitied him. The past two years have shown that he has no limits. Russ Smith may not achieve the NBA status that Louisville fans dream for him, but if he wants to, there isn’t a better time to try.