Smith was honored with the 2012-13 BIG EAST Conference Scholar-Athlete Sports Excellence Award for men’s basketball. He received a 2013 Academic Momentum Award, as presented by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports and the Scholar Baller program, an honor which is based on the level of academic improvement. Smith is working at a local television station in Louisville during the fall semester for his internship for part of his Communications major requirements. He will be the first member of his family to earn a college degree when he completes it in the spring of 2014.
Smith is the team co-captain for the defending national championship Cardinals and has emerged as a true team leader. He battled through multiple injuries (broken foot, concussion, strained foot, sore knee) to play 17 games as a freshman before a strong work ethic over the summer helped him emerge as a sophomore and rank among the nation’s top 20 in steals. Smith dedicated his efforts in the 2103 Big East tournament to the memory of his high school coach who had passed away that week and was named to the all-tournament team.
Smith has made multiple hospital visits to the local children’s hospital in Louisville to brighten the day for young people. He has read to elementary school classes to emphasize the importance of reading. He is a visible member of the campus and city community, whether it is when he paints his body to support the Cards’ soccer team or when the charismatic Smith takes the time at multiple events to sign autographs and pose for photos.
Russ Smith has succeeded in improving in nearly every key statistical category this season after earning All-America honors a year ago. He is just the fourth Louisville player in history with at least 1,700 career points, 300 assists and 200 steals. Smith is the only player in the American Athletic Conference to rank among the top five in league-only stats in all of scoring (18.0 ppg, 4th), assists (4.7), steals (2.3, 1st), and three-point percentage (.474, 1st). Smith has scored in double figures in all but two games this season for the nationally-ranked Louisville Cardinals. One of those game when he missed double digits, he took only two shots in the game while delivering a career-high 13 assists and grabbing four steals.
Entering conference tournament week, Smith is eighth in career scoring at Louisville with 1,779 points, is tied for third in career free throws at UofL with 448, and is second in career steals at UofL with 242— 12 behind the career record of 254 set by Peyton Siva, who finished his career last season. Smith has already earned first team All-America honors this season from three media entities (The Sporting News, NBC Sports and Bleacher Report) and is on the Wooden Award final ballot and the USBWA mid-season Oscar Robertson Trophy and Naismith Trophy mid-season watch lists.