It turns out Louisville’s Russ Smith isn’t so sold on going to the NBA just yet. A day after it was reported that Russ Smith was indeed entering the NBA Draft this summer, the Cardinals’ star has backed off that claim and his head coach Rick Pitino stated Smith is still “50-50″ when it comes to entering the draft and staying at Louisville for another year.
“Russ, I think, is 50-50,” he told Sports Radio 790 in Louisville. “He’s a very confused young man in terms of his decision right now. He didn’t want his dad to say that about him coming out. He wanted time to think of it.”
This may be a bit confusing to some, as it was Pitino who helped fuel rumors when he “confirmed” Smith’s departure from Louisville at the Cardinals championship rally earlier this week. But it shouldn’t be surprising that Smith is on the fence about entering the draft, as many believe if Smith returns in 2014, the Cardinals have a solid chance of repeating as champions.
There’s no guarantee that will happen, but at the very least Smith would have another year to grow his brand and show off for NBA scouts. Smith averaged 22.3ppg in the NCAA Tournament, but he struggled in the National Championship game against Michigan, which didn’t leave scouts with the most impressive lasting impression of Smith. His performance doesn’t sink his draft status, but it’s something Smith must be taking into account while he ponders his future.
A decision will likely come soon, as underclassmen have until April 28th to declare for the NBA Draft. Most players that are going to declare have done so by now, and Smith’s name was grouped in with the likes of Victor Oladipo, Michael Carter-Williams and others forgoing their final year of eligibility to jump to the NBA.
Smith may still declare, but as of right now it appears as though he still has yet to make that decision final.