Russ Smith A Naismith Award Candidate

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University of Louisville junior Russ Smith is one of 30 candidates for the 2013 Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year award presented by AT&T, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Tuesday.

Smith, who has also been mentioned by ESPN as a breakout star this season and has emerged as an All-America candidate for the No. 10 ranked Cardinals. He has been listed on the 2012-13 Midseason Top 25 Wooden Watch list and was named one of 19 third team recipients of the Academic Momentum Award. He is 4th in the Big East in scoring with 17.2 points a game and is 4th in free-throw shooting at 86.7% a game. Russ is only 15 points away from the 1000 club at Louisville.

Overall, Smith averages 18.4 points, 2.9 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals in 29.7 minutes per game for the Cards. He is hitting 40.2% from the field and 31.8% from long range.

The top 30 candidates were selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances to this point in the 2013 men’s college basketball season. In late March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will narrow down the list to four finalists. The Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year presented by AT&T will be awarded on April 7, 2013 in Atlanta.

For the ninth consecutive year, fans will have the opportunity to text their votes for the player of their choice and help determine the 2013 Naismith Trophy winner. Voting will open to fans on Monday, March 25. Naismith Trophy presenting sponsor AT&T is making the voting open to other wireless carriers, enabling even more fans to participate.

“This season has re-defined excellence on the court, as numerous talented players have put themselves in a position to win the prestigious Naismith Trophy,” said Shane Battier, spokesperson for the Naismith Awards and the only men’s player to win both a high school (1997) and college (2001) Naismith Trophy. “I am excited to see which of these great players emerges down the stretch to win this award and become the newest member of the Naismith Awards family.”

“For nearly a decade, AT&T has helped honor college basketball’s elite and their amazing performances on the court,” said Jamie Kerr, Director, AT&T Corporate Sponsorships. “AT&T enables fans to play a central role in the selection process while bringing them closer to their passion for college basketball. With such a competitive pool of student-athletes, next month’s voting is sure to be close.”

Other notable Naismith Trophy alumni include a pair of three-time winners in Bill Walton (1972, 73, 74) and Ralph Sampson (181, 82, 83), Michael Jordan (1984), Kevin Durant (2007) and last year’s winner, Anthony Davis of Kentucky. The Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T is the most prestigious national award presented annually to college basketball’s best player.

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