Russ Smith will stay at U of L - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Russ Smith will stay at U of L

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Russ Smith will stay on the University of Louisville men's basketball team next season: that was the big news that came out of a 1 p.m. press conference with coach Rick Pitino and Smith himself.

There had been speculation that after U of L's NCAA Championship win, Smith might be headed for the NBA, but this afternoon, Coach Pitino put those rumors to rest.

Pitino said the NBA wanted Smith to gain 10 lbs. of muscle, and Smith wanted to stay at U of L and be the first person in his family to graduate with a degree.

Smith said it wasn't a hard decision.  "I really realized how much I enjoyed playing with my teammates," he said. "I love to win...I want to go out as a winner, as well as get my degree."

He added that, "The pros of staying were so much better than the pros for leaving."

"I felt like I'd be running away from getting better and maturing as a player if I left," he said. "Now I have new goals, new challenges."

Pitino had glowing words, not just for Smith, but his entire team.  "This is a very unique group of young men," Pitino told the media. "Very unique."

Earlier this week, Smith said he loves U of L but is also excited about the prospect of starting his career.  Smith averaged more than 18 points a game for the Cards this season.

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