Marginal Pro Wannabes: Don't Be a Fool; Stay in School
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The premature lure of money -- lotsa dosh -- never wanes for any athlete being groomed for a pro career.
It seems like every NBA eligible draftee is more susceptible to this than those in other sports. But Russ Smith has announced that he will not forego his senior season with the national champion Louisville Cardinals.
Maybe one ring isn't enough, but more likely is the fact that Rick Pitino had a sobering chat with him about his pro prospects. Smith decided Wed 24 April that his game needed more development. At best, the NBA data projected Smith as a late second rounder, so he wisely decided to keep his talents in Louisville.
In my opinion, this is a win-win situation. The worst-case scenario is that, next season, Smith will be a second-round pick again. Meanwhile, what he will have is another year with teammates and coaches where he will assume a strong leadership role. And more importantly, Smith will get to experience senior year and earn his diploma. Plus, he may have the chance to leave a legacy at Louisville by leading the Cardinals to a second consecutive national title. (However, do know the Kentucky Wildcats -- as would be expected -- aren't ceding anything to their in-state rivals, not even speculation.)
Maybe Smith will serve as an example to others pondering over whether they should enter the draft or stay one more year. He's a much better example than, say, Robert Swift.
Sometimes it's better to be a big fish in a small pond -- where there are no fisherman -- than to leap into the ocean and be devoured by pirhañas.