LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Russ Smith will play in front of the home crowd at the KFC YUM! Center for the final time on Saturday. The Cards All-American guard will go through the "Senior Day" festivities before #11 UofL hosts #18 Connecticut.
"That's crazy, I remember freshman year, sophomore year, I know it like the back of my hand and now it's kind of like coming to an end," Smith told WAVE 3 Sports. "It all just seems like yesterday. It's amazing, but it's also sad at the same time because I won't be a student at Louisville ever again, but I'll definitely be a part of this city."
Smith currently ranks 8th on the schools all-time scoring list with 1,776 career points, just 30 behind LaBradford Smith and 7th place. Not bad considering Smith only scored 38 points in his entire freshman season.
He says he will probably tear up. "I will, just for many reasons, how I came in. I came in injured and had to fight for playing time. I had to gain trust and just getting respect from everybody, and I earned everything I've got, I never had anything handed to me. I've never gotten a starting position handed to me, or playing time, awards, anything, I've worked hard for everything."
UofL fans treat him like a rock star, asking for pictures and autographs wherever he goes. "People respect hard work," Smith said.
Smith's 748 points in the 2012-13 season rank second in school history, behind only the 825 Darrell Griffith in the 1980 title season.
"It is phenomenal and I always joke around about him, but I think I will miss him more than any basketball player I've ever coached," UofL head coach Rick Pitino said. "I've had so many laughs, even in tense moments, he has afforded me the ability to laugh because he is one in a million, one of a kind. He is so unique in everything he does and he's such a fun kid to coach, he's got a great heart. In four years the young man has never gotten into a stitch of trouble, that's almost impossible. Never does the wrong things, treats people the right way, I've been really fortunate to have him for four years."
The Cards and Huskies tip off at 2 p.m. Saturday, fans are encouraged to wear red to support the seniors and to be in their seats by 1:40 p.m. for the pregame "Senior Day" festivities. Other seniors who will be honored include Luke Hancock, Tim Henderson and Stephan Van Treese.
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