The regular-season awards are starting to roll in for Russ Smith. Today, the All-American teams were named for NBC Sports, Bleacher Report, and Sporting News, and Russ made the 1st team for all three! That is a huge honor for the senior guard.
All 3 publications mention the 13 assists that Russ dished out on Saturday against UConn.
Russ Smith, Louisville (17.5 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.5 rpg, 2.0 spg, 39.4% 3PT): The key to Louisville’s season has been Smith’s ability to embrace being a point guard isn’t of simply being Russdiculous. It should tell you something that, on his Senior Night and just three days after exploding for 22 second half points and six threes in eight minutes in a come-from-behind win at SMU, Smith finished with 13 assists and just two shots from the floor.
Russ Smith didn’t exactly retire his Russdiculous persona, but he has become a much wiser version of himself in his senior season.
Take Saturday, for instance. Smith, the guy who has always loved to shoot, took only two shots and dished out 13 assists in a blowout win over Connecticut.
Smith has done whatever Rick Pitino has needed him to do this year. He’s averaging a career-best 4.8 assists and still leads the Cards in scoring at 17.5 points per game.
And if you’re not convinced yet that he’s not just a chucker without a conscience, look at his shooting percentages—39.4 percent from deep and 51.7 percent inside the arc. He’s evolved into a much headier, patient scorer than the old Russdiculous.
Stats: 17.5 points, 4.8 assists, 39.4 percent 3-point shooting
From perhaps the humblest beginnings of any NCAA champion/first-team All-American, Smith developed into a player whose own nickname no longer fit. Russdiculous? That’s certainly unique, but Smith has advanced to the point where he now plays solid, winning basketball and rarely is guilty of the brain-freeze moments that led to coach Rick Pitino assigning that label. Smith returned to Louisville after the 2013 Cardinals won the national championship with an eye toward completing a spectacular college career and demonstrating he can function as an effective playmaker. The guy who once made silly decisions a regular routine passed for 13 assists in the final game against Connecticut and 16 times had five or more. He still could rip up the nets, as well, such as hitting 6-of-6 on 3-pointers against SMU and 10 total games of 20 or more points.
Coach Rick Pitino on Smith: “He’s made it a lot of fun for me. With Russ, he works hard. All I ask for is everybody works hard, plays for the right reasons. Everybody’s got their peculiarities you deal with. With Russ, you just have to give him more latitude at the offensive end.”