INDIANAPOLIS - Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino spoke with the media following the Cardinals' win over Oregon on Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium regarding the NBA potential of guard Russ Smith.
"I spent eight years in the pros, and I don't read a whole lot of what goes on. I look at Chad Ford's list and I don't see Russ Smith. I don't see him on the All-American teams.
"Truly, I've been coaching a long time, I'm baffled, just baffled, because it wasn't like he's no Johnny-come-lately. He carried us on his back to the Final Four last year.
"And Allen Iverson was so good at the pro level, because it's tough in the pros, because you really have a 16-second shot clock. Now, Allen Iverson always had the ball with five seconds to go and he had to create. That's what Russ does.
"We were short on gas tonight without Russ Smith. We couldn't win.
"So Russ, I mean, as the next pro guy, I look at him and say college today is much more physical than the pros. When you watch the pros today, they go right away, hand check or anything like that. And Russ is able to get to the foul line, get a shot off, make the play, turn around and guard.
"I'd have him in the top 12 in the draft because of the way his game transcends to the next level.
"I'm very happy that everybody is missing the boat, because I'll have him for another year. But I really, I really can't believe what I'm reading sometimes of this kid. He's - to me - I thought he was a runaway Player of the Year. Runaway."