LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Another one of the University of Louisville's men's basketball greats is getting ready to represent the Cardinals again this summer.
Russ Smith, who helped the Cards win the 2013 national championship and had his number retired in January of 2022, is joining Louisville's alumni team for The Basketball Tournament. The TBT is a 64-team, single-elimination tournament for a prize of $1 million.
Many teams in the open-invitation competition are based on where the players played their college basketball, with UofL's team being named, "The Ville." The team will play at Freedom Hall from July 25-31 in the Louisville region of the tournament.
Former Cardinals like Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear, Rakeem Buckles, Smith, Peyton Siva, Chinanu Onuaku and Dillon Avare are currently slated to play. Behanan, Blackshear, Siva and Smith were members of the 2013 championship team.
"I don't know if there's any other program in the country that that celebrates its national champions the way I think we do here and get a chance to see us all come together to play again," Smith said. "I think we're the only school that's doing that to this magnitude in showing up. The fans are going to show up at Freedom Hall. I think it is really going to be a fun, nostalgic ride, and euphoric not only for the fans, but even us as players."
Russ Smith (@Specter_Smit) will play for @TBT_Louisville. He joins other former Cardinals, including some who also helped the Cards win the 2013 national title, who are grateful for the support. Smith: "I don't know if there is any other program in the country that celebrates its… pic.twitter.com/MWzgJUDu08— WDRB News (@WDRBNews) May 24, 2023
Smith and Siva formed one of the most dynamic backcourts in college basketball during their time with the Cards. "Russdiculous" is the only Louisville player in history with at least 1,800 career points, 350 assists and 250 steals, also leading the program in career steals (257). Siva is second in career steals (254) and assists (677). The two stars led Louisville to two Final Four appearances and the 2013 national title.
"Peyton and I are really good friends," Smith said. "To finally get back to getting on the court with each other should be really fun and nostalgic. I definitely want to see what 10 years ago looks like and 10 years from playing with him looks like. So, that's gonna be fun."
Smith said he might look a little different from his college playing days. His professional career has seen stops in the NBA, the G-League, China and Italy.
"I think my awareness on the court is much more professional," Smith said. "My pace is a lot better and just my feel for the game overall. And I'm more comfortable with what I do naturally, which is score and play-make the basketball.
"I think the times that people didn't see me play after Louisville, they've always tried to give me a position or assign me a position. They go, 'Hey, you're the point guard for Memphis, or you're the point guard for New Orleans, or in the G-League, we want you to do this.' When I'm overseas, I get to play more of a free-flowing game off of the ball, very similar to what I was doing in college. I've never been able to do that at the professional level in the United States. So, playing here in the TBT, I think I'll be in a more comfortable role."
Tickets for TBT can be purchased here.
Copyright 2023 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.