Michigan v Louisville

Russ Smith on the NBA Draft: “…This is the right time”

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(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

Earlier today, reports surfaced that Louisville’s Russ Smith would enter the NBA Draft.

Well, the All-Big East guard seemingly made it official on Sirius XM’s College Sports Nation radio show, with Mark Packer and Bruce Pearl.

He appeared Tuesday and explained the situation. Smith’s father, Russ Smith, Sr., was quick to pull the trigger on telling everyone his son was leaving, breaking the news right after Louisville won the national championship.

“My dad obviously put it out there [to] say that I’m going to enter the Draft,” Smith said. “We both feel like this is the right time, while coming off the national championship, while the talk about my game is still there.  And it’s just the right time.  You never know what’s going to happen next year.  I’m real lucky to be in the situation I am now so this’ll be the best time and we’ll just see from there.  But, as of right now, I gotta get back in the gym, get my weight back.  I lost nine pounds, 10 pounds, believe it or not, this season and now I have a lot of time to get that weight to stay on me.  So I feel like going into, maybe two months from now I could get maybe 15 pounds back on my body and just develop parts of my game that weren’t there and get healthy again.”

So there it is. Smith is officially going pro. Not sure it’s the best decision, but you can’t blame a guy for wanting to cash in on the splash he made this season. Though one has to wonder how his sub-par performance, at least scoring-wise, in the Final Four will affect his draft stock. He finished with just nine points in the national title game and while he had 21 in the national semifinal against Wichita State, he started the game 1-for-10.

Smith may have to improve his distribution skills if he wants to thrive at the next level. He played some point guard this season, but finished with 116 assists against 108 turnovers. And there are a ton of 6-7 two-guards with his skill set at the next level.

NBA rules state underclassmen have until April 28 to declare for the draft and until June 17 to withdrawal.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

Former Wichita State assistant returns as a consultant

Chris Jans, Gregg Marshall
Associated Press
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Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.

Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.

“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”

While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.

h/t ShockerHoops.net

AUDIO: Rick Pitino discusses allegations, future at Louisville

Rick Pitino
Associated Press
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Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.

The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.

“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.

“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.

“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”

Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.