Russ Smith is ranked seventh on Ken Pomeroy's latest list of national player of the year candidates.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Russ Smith has not been stirring as much national attention as he did last season. It started when USA Today left him off its pre-season list of the 10 best players in the country. Strange call, but the buzz about Smith is not as powerful as it was last season.
I'm not sure I can explain it. But I'll try.
Smith's scoring average is down a bit – from 18.7 to 18.1 points per game. Louisville is still looking for its first signature win. Without the background of the Big East, the Cards are not kicking up as much national publicity in the American Athletic Conference as they did last season. No Syracuse. No Notre Dame. No Georgetown.
And there is always the media boredom factor. Russdiculous was a fresh story last season. Watch him eat a jumbo-sized stack of pancakes. Everybody wrote about Smith. But the national circus has moved on. Media folks seem fascinated by the fabulous freshmen this season.
That's not fair to Smith. His shooting percentages – both two- and three-point – have improved. He's delivering more assists. His turnover rate is about the same. He's still a very effective defender. Russ Smith is not the reason that Louisville has lost three games.
Should Smith be included in the national player of the year discussion?
Ken Pomeroy thinks so. Pomeroy ranks Smith seventh on his list of 10 national candidates.
Here is Pomeroy's Top 10:
1. Doug McDermott, Creighton – second nationally in scoring at 25.2.
2. Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh – averaging 17.6 while making nearly 43 percent of his threes.
3. Nick Johnson, Arizona – top scorer (16.3) on the nation's top team.
4. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State – scoring nearly 18 per game with 5.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists.
5. C. J. Fair, Syracuse – top scorer (17.1) for the nation's second best team.
6. Julius Randle, Kentucky – Mr. Double-Double – 16.9 ppg, 11.0 rpg.
7. Russ Smith, Louisville – you know his story.
8. DeAndre Kane, Iowa State – Playing better for the Cyclones than he did for Marshall.
9. Jabari Parker, Duke – Averaging 18.8 but has not scored more than 15 in his last five games.
10. JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova – Leader of the Wildcats' return to the Top 10.