University of Louisville men’s basketball’s Russ Smith is the American Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year, conference officials announced from Memphis based on a vote of the league’s head coaches.
Smith, who earned All-America honors from multiple media outlets last year, was named the 2012-13 Ken Pomeroy National Player of the Year. He received other honors during the year as well, including all-BIG EAST first team, all-BIG EAST Tournament Team, and Midwest Regional Most Outstanding Player.
He also accumulated academic accolades, being named the 2012-13 BIG EAST Conference Scholar-Athlete Sports Excellence Award for men's basketball. Smith also earned the 2013 Academic Momentum Award, as presented by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports, and was selected to the Scholar Baller program, an honor which is based on the level of academic improvement.
The Brooklyn, N.Y., native averaged 18.7 points per game last season, totaled 83 steals, an average 2.1 per game, and finished the year with 748 points, the fifth-highest total in the country.
Along with his solid regular-season performance, the senior continued with stellar play in the postseason. He averaged 22.3 points and 2.5 steals in the Cardinals' six NCAA Tournament games. Included during that stretch was a 27-point performance against Colorado State, the fourth-highest scoring total of his career, 23 points and an NCAA Tournament record tying eight steals against North Carolina A&T, and 21 points against Wichita State in the Final Four.
Louisville also placed two other student-athletes on the preseason all-conference teams, Chane Behanan, who was a first-team pick, and second-team honoree Montrezl Harrell.
Behanan averaged 9.8 points and 6.5 rebounds and earned a spot on the NCAA Final Four all-Tournament Team last season. The junior, who tied a school record with 59 dunks, produced a double-double against Michigan in the national championship game with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Harrell, who played in 40 games last season, totaled 145 rebounds and improved as the season progressed. He scored a season-high 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds to help ignite the Cardinals’ comeback victory against Syracuse in the BIG EAST Tournament title game. In the NCAA Tournament, he had 11 points and four rebounds off the bench against Colorado State in the NCAA, and then later posted eight points and four rebounds against Wichita State in the national semifinals.
2013-14 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
PRESEASON INDIVIDUAL HONORS
Preseason Player of the Year
Russ Smith, G, Sr., Louisville
Preseason Rookie of the Year
Keith Frazier, G, Fr., SMU
Preseason All-Conference Teams
Sean Kilpatrick, G, Cincinnati
Shabazz Napier, G, UConn *
Chane Behanan, F, Louisville
Russ Smith, G, Louisville *
Joe Jackson, G, Memphis *
Isaiah Sykes, G, UCF
Ryan Boatright, G, UConn
TaShawn Thomas, F, Houston
Montrezl Harrell, F, Louisville
Anthony Collins, G, USF
Victor Rudd, F, USF
* unanimous selection