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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Russ Smith: ‘I don’t understand what I have to do’

Russ Smith Rick PitinoFormer Louisville star Russ Smith was drafted a lot lower than he had hoped for on Thursday night. The 2014 consensus first team All-American was taken by the Philadelphia 76ers — who then traded him to the New Orleans Pelicans — with the 47th overall pick. Some players would be thrilled just to be drafted, but that was clearly not the case for Smith.

“I’m not really mad, I’m just more frustrated, as far as what do I have to do,” Smith told reporters, via WDRB’s Eric Crawford. “I don’t know what I have to do to gain the respect of the people I need to gain the respect from.

“They say we want a guard who’s 6-3 and 180 (pounds) or 6-2, 190, I can’t argue with that. That’s beyond my control. I can’t give you that. But what I can give you is wins beyond wins. I can give you — every time I’ve matched up against one of their highly touted guard I’ve come out victorious, not only this year, but last year and my sophomore year.”

Smith is undersized at 6-feet and 160 pounds. He was clearly annoyed that the Miami Heat traded to get Shabazz Napier with the No. 24 overall pick. Napier, 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, was 0-4 in his four career head-to-head matchups with Smith and Louisville. Napier scored 67 points in the four games and Smith scored 68. Smith shot 53% from the field, while Napier hit just 32% of his shots.

“I’ve been wanting to play five on five and get to face certain guys in these workouts that I didn’t get,” Smith added. “When we got to five-on-five, I destroyed these workouts. You want me to go by my man, I went by my man every time. You want me to make 60 percent of my shots, I made 60 percent of my shots. You want me to finish at the rim, I finish over the rim. You want me to get guys involved and assists, I get guys involved and get assists. You want me to defend and not let guys into the lane, I defend and don’t let them in the lane.

“What more do you want me to do? You want me to win? I won a national championship. I went to a Final Four. I won a Big East, a Big East and then I won an AAC championship. You say I don’t pass enough? I led my conference in assists per minute. I don’t understand what I have to do. But now I’m with a great organization and I am going — I am going to be successful, hands down. Hands down.”

Smith said he is excited that the Pelicans wanted him enough to trade for him and that he is “totally happy” with the way things worked out. That’s clearly a lie, but that should please the Pelicans. They drafted the most offended player in the draft at No. 47.

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