Russ Smith said he will make a decision on his future next week.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Gorgui Dieng is going to the NBA. Luke Hancock is going back to Virginia to visit his ailing father. And Russ Smith is going somewhere to think about his future before making his decision next week about returning to the University of Louisville basketball team.
That was my takeaway after spending about 10 minutes in the end zone at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium with the U of L NCAA champion basketball players during the Cardinals' spring football game Saturday.
Dieng said that he would not return for his senior season. Smith said that he was "50-50," while trying to decide between a senior year or playing professional basketball. And Hancock said that after the U of L spring semester ends in several weeks, he will return to Virginia to spend a good chunk of the spring and summer with his father, Bill.
"I'm very excited," Dieng said. "It's another chapter in my book, just trying to open it."
Dieng is projected by many analysts to be a mid-to-late first-round NBA selection.
The projections for Smith are not as favorable. Most have him in the second round, which does not include guaranteed money. Second-rounders who do not make the league are typically led to the NBA Developmental League or overseas.
"I've gotten back anywhere from late first, 25-to-45, early second, mid-second," Smith said. "I've gotten more early second.
"That's pretty much where I'm at. It's not a bad projection. The way I am and next year isn't guaranteed, sometimes you don't want to miss out on the opportunity. At the end of the day I've got to do what's best for me. They did say that I'm talented enough to play."
Smith's father, who is nicknamed "Big Russ", complicated the situation after U of L's 82-76 title game win over Michigan by telling reporters in Atlanta that his son was leaving for the NBA. That was premature. The younger Smith said that he was still contemplating the situation -- and will be for several days.
"I'm pretty much undecided right now," Smith said. "I've just got to ask my Dad and my coach (Rick Pitino) what's best for me.
"I want to say by next week, as soon as that, because I've got to start moving quicker if I'm going to leave. If I'm not going to leave I've got to start doing the pre-team workouts that we normally do. So I've just got to make a quick decision.
"I was always more 50-50, but I didn't get a chance to really sit down and think about it and weigh all my factors. It kind of got out early, but I never got a chance to actually weigh out the factors. I'm doing it now but it's really tough."