Russ Smith to Forgo NBA Draft, Return to Louisville for Senior Season

Russ SmithDespite earlier reports of the contrary, Louisville guard Russ Smith announced Wednesday that he will be returning to school for his senior season.

It was initially rumored that Smith would join the sizable pool of college stars that have declared for the NBA draft, including Kansas’ Ben McLemore, Michigan’s Trey Burke and Louisville teammate Gorgui Dieng.

Smith’s father fueled those speculations with his comments after the Cardinals defeated Burke and the Wolverines in the national championship, saying his son had nothing left to prove at the college level.

But Smith, a first-team All-Big East selection and third-team All-American this season, admitted that he does not yet possess the maturity to succeed in the NBA.

“I’m happy I finally got it off my chest,” he said at a press conference. “What was crazy after doing all the pros and cons of staying or going, the pros of staying were so much better than the pros of leaving.

“All my pros I put down for me leaving were very immature. You have to put the work in to get better, you have to do this, you have to do that. Those are challenges I felt like, along with coach, we both felt I’d be running way from, getting better and maturing as a player.”

In addition to Smith, Louisville also returns starting forwards Wayne Blackshear and Chane Behanan and Final Four Most Outstanding Player Luke Hancock as the Cardinals will attempt to become the first repeat champions since Florida in 2006 in 2007.