Louisville Athletics Officially Announces Retirement Of Russ Smith’s Number

It’s now official. As Russ Smith had previously tweeted (and we previously wrote a story on which you can read here), Louisville men’s basketball will be retiring the number 2 in honor of one of its great players.

The retirement ceremony will take place January 22nd during halftime of the Cards game against Notre Dame. Smith’s number 2 will join Charlie Tyra’s number 8, Wes Unseld’s number 31, Darrell Griffith’s number 35, and Pervis Ellison’s number 42. The number 2 will never be worn again by a UofL men’s basketball player after this season.

UofL has announced a special ticket promotion for the Notre Dame matchup in honor of Russdiculous. The promotion is a 2-for-$22 sale which you can read more about in the UofL Athletics press release below. They also announced some special Russ-themed elements for the game. UofL fans will now how the chance to honor one of its greatest and most beloved players. Russ Smith definitely deserves it.

Press Release From UofL Athletics:

Louisville To Retire Russ Smith’s Number 2 Jersey

Consensus All-America guard will have his number retired at halftime of the Cardinals’ Jan. 22 game vs. Notre Dame

Online:  https://uofl.me/3JNNoau

LOUISVILLE, Ky.  – The University of Louisville will retire men’s basketball All-America guard Russ Smith’s No. 2 jersey number at a halftime ceremony of the Cardinals’ Jan. 22 game against Notre Dame in the KFC Yum! Center.  Smith made the initial announcement on Dec. 24 in a personal tweet.

Smith’s No. 2 will be the fifth number retired in the Louisville men’s basketball program, joining No. 8 Charlie Tyra (1953-57 at UofL), No. 31 Wes Unseld (1965-68), No. 35 Darrell Griffith (1979-80) and No. 42 Pervis Ellison (1985-89).  Following this season, the number two will no longer be worn by a UofL player.

A special 2-for-$22 “flash sale” ticket offerfor the Cardinals’ Jan. 22 game against Notre Dame is now available to the general public through Wednesday, Jan. 5, at 2 p.m.  Fans can take advantage of this limited-time offer by visiting gocards.com/RUS2.  Additional ticket options for all remaining home games can be found at gocards.com/tickets.

Russ-focused elements will be featured heavily in the gameday experience, with an exclusive opportunity for UofL season ticket holders and additional fan engagement details to be released in the days leading up to the game.

Nicknamed “Russdiculous,” Smith is the only Louisville player in history with at least 1,800 career points, 350 assists and 250 steals. He is the Cardinals’ all-time leader in steals with 257, is fifth in career scoring at Louisville with 1,908 points, second in career free throws made with 488, and is tied for ninth in career three-pointers with 180. 

A consensus All-America selection as a senior in 2013-14 and the 2014 AAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player, Smith averaged 18.2 points, 4.6 assists and 2.0 steals as the Cardinals posted a 31-6 record.  He was a candidate for national player of the year honors and was one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS award (first team All-America by AP, USBWA, The Sporting News, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Bleacher Report, second team NABC). The two-time KenPom Player of the Year (2013, 2014) was among the top four for the Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T and among the top five on the John R. Wooden All-America team. 

Smith earned All-America honors as a junior in 2012-13 (AP, NABC, The Sporting News third team) when he led the Cardinals in scoring, averaging 18.7 points (35th in the nation) and 2.1 steals (36th nationally). He was selected as the national Player of the Year by Ken Pomeroy and was the recipient of the 2012-13 BIG EAST Conference Scholar-Athlete Sports Excellence Award for men’s basketball.  He earned the Most Outstanding Player award of the 2013 NCAA Midwest Regional after scoring 31 points against Oregon and 23 points against Duke.

A 6-0 guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., Smith was a part of the second-most successful four-year period in the Cardinals’ storied basketball history, helping Louisville win 121 games from 2010-14 (121-31, .796). He helped the Cardinals reach two NCAA Final Fours, two Big East Tournament Championships and one with the American Athletic Conference, two regular season co-conference titles (one Big East, one American), three straight NCAA Sweet 16 appearances and the 2013 national title (later vacated).

Smith scored a career-high 42 points against Houston in the semifinals of the AAC Championship. It was the third-most in school history, the most by a Louisville player in 52 years, and three short of the school record of 45 scored by Wes Unseld. His 27 first-half points were the most ever scored in a half by a Louisville player. Smith scored 673 points as a senior, becoming only the second Louisville player ever with DeJuan Wheat (1995-97) to score over 600 points in back-to-back seasons.

Following his collegiate career, Smith was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft with the 47th overall pick, and was subsequently traded to the New Orleans Pelicans.  He played in the NBA with New Orleans and the Memphis Grizzlies, and has played professional basketball in Turkey and China, as well as with G League teams Iowa Energy, Delaware 87ers and Fort Wayne Mad Ants, where he is currently playing.

He was the 2017 NBL China Player of the Year when he averaged 60.5 points per game and led the league in scoring that season and in 2019. Smith scored a career-high 81 points for Luoyang Zhonghe of China on July 5, 2017, adding eight rebounds and seven assists in the game.

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