Is Russ Smith television’s next reality star? According to the 6-foot junior guard, considered one of the most beloved, most unpredictable and wildest of Cards, he’d fare well on just about any TV show due to his intelligence, witty nature and his singing voice – Yep, Russ’ got pipes.
“I watch a lot of reality TV shows,” said Smith. “I feel like I’m funnier than everybody on (TV). I feel like I’m more interesting than everybody on those reality TV shows. I just want a shot,” he laughed.
Surely, Smith’s aspiration comes as no surprise to Coach Rick Pitino, who lovingly nicknamed Smith “Russdiculous” in honor of his capricious court play and funny antics.
But, have no fear. Smith’s not ready to head to Hollywood quite yet. For now, his mind is focused on one thing, and one thing only: UofL basketball.
Coming off a season filled with both highs and lows, Smith made a name for himself as the spark plug off the bench Louisville needed to achieve such victories as a comeback win against Florida in the NCAA West Region Championship. However, at times, the king of sporadic play-making followed standout showings with two- and three-point finishes, only to rack up 20 or more points a game or two later.
“Me and coach (have) been working really hard at (improving on inconsistencies), and its tough but I’m willing to put the effort into it and make myself better,” said Smith. “Coach has been drilling (instruction) in me the whole summer so I’m definitely trying to change it.”
With a stacked team ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in several preseason polls, Smith will likely reprise his role as a sixth man, though the starting line-up is still anyone’s guess. “(It) doesn’t really matter to me to be honest,” Smith said on whether he’ll start or sub in. “As long as the team’s doing well and I’m playing well and I’m contributing and everyone else is contributing and we’re winning, that’s all that matters.”
Regardless of when he enters the game, Smith is often a key factor for the Cards. He’s one of the nation’s best thieves, who grabbed 87 steals last season, a Louisville single-season record.
Though, UofL lost to in-state rival Kentucky during the regular season, Smith also tallied a career-high 30 points (nearly half Louisville’s point total) in the Wildcats’ 69-62 win.
It’s only natural Smith and the Cards would be hungry for vengeance after Kentucky beat them a second time during the season, this time in the NCAA Final Four. But, Smith assures he’s only looking ahead one game at a time and envisioning the overall picture of a championship trophy in Atlanta in 2013.
“I really don’t think about Kentucky or any other opponents until they come up on the schedule,” he said. “I just think about hopefully winning the Big East regular season, the Big East Championship (and) a National Championship, Final Four. Those are things I think about, just getting to those points.”