Is Russ Smith televisionâ€™s next reality star? According to the 6-foot junior guard, considered one of the most beloved, most unpredictable and wildest of Cards, heâ€™d fare well on just about any TV show due to his intelligence, witty nature and his singing voice â€“ Yep, Russâ€™ got pipes.
â€œI watch a lot of reality TV shows,â€ said Smith. â€œI feel like Iâ€™m funnier than everybody on (TV). I feel like Iâ€™m more interesting than everybody on those reality TV shows. I just want a shot,â€ he laughed.
Surely, Smithâ€™s aspiration comes as no surprise to Coach Rick Pitino, who lovingly nicknamed Smith â€œRussdiculousâ€ in honor of his capricious court play and funny antics.
But, have no fear. Smithâ€™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.
â€œMe and coach (have) been working really hard at (improving on inconsistencies), and its tough but Iâ€™m willing to put the effort into it and make myself better,â€ said Smith. â€œCoach has been drilling (instruction) in me the whole summer so Iâ€™m definitely trying to change it.â€
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 anyoneâ€™s guess. â€œ(It) doesnâ€™t really matter to me to be honest,â€ Smith said on whether heâ€™ll start or sub in. â€œAs long as the teamâ€™s doing well and Iâ€™m playing well and Iâ€™m contributing and everyone else is contributing and weâ€™re winning, thatâ€™s all that matters.â€
Regardless of when he enters the game, Smith is often a key factor for the Cards. Heâ€™s one of the nationâ€™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 Louisvilleâ€™s point total) in the Wildcatsâ€™ 69-62 win.
Itâ€™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 heâ€™s only looking ahead one game at a time and envisioning the overall picture of a championship trophy in Atlanta in 2013.
â€œI really donâ€™t think about Kentucky or any other opponents until they come up on the schedule,â€ he said. â€œI 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.â€