Rick Pitino's post-NBA draft talk with Russ Smith

07/11/2014 06:30 AM

Russ Smith’s idea of a good time is eating a lot of pancakes. So he might have celebrated signing a contract with the New Orleans Pelicans by eating a lot of flapjacks.

“The minimum salary is $507,000. I immediately told him seven thousand is coming back here so I can go out with the staff,” Smith’s college coach Rick Pitino said. “Russ was a joy to coach in his junior and senior year. I wouldn’t say it was fun his freshman and sophomore year.

“He’s a big time winner and a big time person. He didn’t miss a class while he was here. He didn’t get in trouble when he was here. His idea of a good time is eating a lot of pancakes. He’s a great guy to be around.”

When Pitino heard about Russ’s post-NBA-draft press conference where Smith was disappointed, the UofL head coach coach was not pleased.

“I told Russ, ‘you came in here as a non-recruited player at any level. You ended up one of the most popular players here, a consensus All-American,’” Pitino said. “We had a long conversation about it. And I think he agreed at the end.”

Maybe the tone was wrong, but Pitino confirmed one of Russ’s biggest complaints that he was not allowed to work out against the top players in the draft.

“Five different franchises told me [that] other agents asked if Russ was going to be there. They didn’t want their guys going against Russ,” Pitino said.

In the end, Smith ended up with a good team and will be a good fit with the Pelicans, according to Pitino.

“I think it is a great situation because they have outstanding guards and they can all apply the heat,” Pitino said. “They have a lot of belief and faith in Russ.”


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