The Confidential

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Archive for the tag “Russ Smith”

Louisville Basketball Preview

The Louisville Cardinals enters the 2013-14 basketball season ranked in the top 3 and as one of the favorites to win the national championship. If that happens, the Cards would be the first team to repeat as national champions since the 2007 Florida Gators and would be the smallest team to win the title in nearly 50 years.

Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino will have to replace two key starters from last seasons team, PG Peyton Siva and C Gorgui Dieng. Siva finished his career at U of L as arguably the Cards greatest point guard. His leadership and playmaking skills at both ends of the court will be missed. Dieng left early and was a first round pick in the NBA draft. His shot blocking ability and overall post presence will be greatly missed.

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NBA Draft & The ACC

The April 16, 2013, deadline has come and gone, meaning that anyone who decides to go pro between now and April 28, 2013, will make that decision as a point-of-no-return.  That will not stop folks from doing so, but the consequences will be a bit sharper.  At this point, those eligible for the NBA draft are what they are.  There are a number of ACC players that will be among the players drafted.  Who are they?

First of all, who are the early entries from ACC schools so far?  CBS Sportsline has a nice list going.  Here are the players from the ACC schools on the list:

  • Steven Adams, Pitt
  • Lorenzo Brown, NC State
  • Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
  • Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
  • Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
  • Alex Len, Maryland
  • CJ Leslie, NC State

Second, where will these kids go?  Well, here is where Chad Ford slots these guys, and other ACC draft-eligibles, in terms of overall NBA talent:

  • Len, #8
  • Carter-Williams, #10
  • Dieng, #17
  • Mason Plumlee, Duke, #18
  • Adams, #26
  • Brown, #42
  • Bullock, #45
  • Russ Smith, Louisville, #53
  • Leslie, #61
  • James Southerland, Syracuse, #81
  • Richard Howell, NC State, #82
  • Ryan Kelly, Duke, #88
  • Michael Snaer, Florida State, #92

A few other players to note.  These guys are all still undecided: Shane Larkin of Miami is at #30; Rasheed Sulaimon of Duke is at #48; and CJ Fair of Syracuse is at 71.  The decision should be tough for Larkin, but fairly easy for Fair.  You want to be pretty certain you get a first round contract if you are going to leave.



Louisville players considering the NBA

Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino woke up Monday morning to the news of his election into the basketball Hall of Fame. That night he coached his Cardinals to their third National Championship in school history while making history himself as being the only coach to win national championships at multiple schools (Kentucky in 1996). It’s truly a time of celebration here in Louisville. It has been 27 years since Denny Crum coached his team, lead by freshman Pervis Ellison and senior Milt Wagner, to Louisville second National Championship back in 1986. But as the fans continue their celebration, several U of L players now have an important decision to make, stay in school or enter the NBA draft. Unlike in past years, they now only have about a week to make that life changing decision.

Chane Behanan came to U of L as a McDonald’s All-American. His 15 pts. and 12 reb. performance against Michigan had me wondering if would be back next season or if he would be tempted to go pro. It seems by the quickness that he made his decision to come back for his junior year that it was an easy decision for him after all. While it seems that he has the strength and skills of an NBA prospect, his 6′-6” frame is small for a pro power forward.

Peyton Siva is a senior point guard. Despite his elite speed and passing abilities, his drawbacks of not possessing a reliable jump shot and being turnover prone probably will prevent him from being drafted. While he is considered a top 30 senior he is barely considered a top 100 overall prospect in the upcoming draft, according to reports. Coach Pitino has often compared him to Florida head coach Billy Donovan so you may one day see him roaming the sidelines as a head coach.

Russ Smith’s father was quoted shortly after the game Monday night as to saying that his son was headed for the NBA draft. The timing seems right coming off of a national championship and while people are still talking about his game. However coach Pitino did his due diligence and applied for NBA assessments and shared those reports with Russ. According to the latest local Pitino interviews, he says his All Big East junior guard is now 60/40 coming back for his senior year. Russ has come along way in his three years at Louisville. After his freshman season he was rumored to be following Assistant coach Steve Masiello when he took the head coaching job at Manhattan College. He stayed and worked hard in the offseason on his game and in the weight room. He made a name for himself by scoring 30+ points against the Anthony Davis led Kentucky Wildcats in his sophomore season. He improved his game further during his junior season and began to alter his reputation as an erratic ball-hog to being more of a controlled chaos type of player. He has many attributes that the NBA is looking for such as his outstanding instincts at both ends of the court, excellent speed, ball handling skills and he is a terrific transition player. His unpredictableness and aggressive style of play makes him an entertaining player. He needs to work on his decision-making, ball distribution and jump shot or his 6′ 160 lbs frame may keep him a second draft pick.

Gorgui Dieng seems to be the most ready NBA prospect from this NC team. He is also the one who would most rather come back and graduate before going pro. The 6’11” 245 lbs junior center with a 7’6” wingspan hails from Kebemer, Senegal and grew up playing soccer. He learned to speak English in about two months, education is a high priority in his family. Despite playing basketball for only a few years, arriving in America in 2009, he has matured quickly and still has tremendous potential. His most notable attributes are for being a shot blocker, he is U of L single season blocks leader, and a tremendous passer from the post. He has an effective hook shot, turn around jumper and he finishes well. Already being 23 years old, this may be the best time for him to go pro. The mock drafts has him as the 17th pick.

With or without Smith and/or Dieng, Louisville is poised to make a run at a repeat with a top 10 recruiting class coming in to complement their returning players. If Kevin Ware is unable to make a comeback next season however, Russ Smith could provide a critical experience to its group of incoming freshman guards. I want to thank everyone for giving me this opportunity to talk about one of my passions, University of Louisville sports.

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