At least one NBA scouts says that Russ Smith should return to Louisville for his senior year to improve his point guard skills.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – As the wait continues for Russ Smith to make his decision about playing at Louisville or professionally next season, I huddled with one of my favorite NBA scouts.
The league discourages scouts from talking about underclassmen on the record. But we're friends. We talk basketball. We talk players and their pro potential. We talk about who should go and who should stay.
His thoughts on Russ Smith?
Russ Smith would benefit from staying at Louisville for his senior season, playing more point guard for Rick Pitino. (WDRB.com will live-stream Pitino's press conference Wednesday at 1 p.m. Smith might be there to announce his decision.)
"He's got to show he can play point guard in the NBA," the scout said. "I have no doubt in my mind he can play in the NBA, but he has to show he can do a few more things better."
Better decision-making. Better distribution of the ball. Better job of getting the ball from Point A to Point B. Better shot making. Better leadership.
"Russ Smith has NBA quickness," the scout said. "He's a tough little guy. He's cat-quick, Brooklyn-tough. He's performed at a high level on the big stage. He's shown he can score against the best college players in the country.
"But for a lot of teams there is still a question about whether he can play point guard. I think he can. I'd love to see him stay and develop that skill under Rick.
"He's already a terrific on-the-ball defender. He's not afraid to really get up into you. He's a competitive kid. (Syracuse guard) Michael Carter-Williams is a first-round pick and I saw him take the ball away from him twice and get layups. It got to the point where (Syracuse coach Jim) Boeheim had Brandon Triche bring the ball up the floor.
"He's an NBA player. He just needs a little more work."