Russ Smith returning to Louisville for senior season

Streeter Lecka

The defending national champions are getting their leading scorer back.

Russ Smith has turned down the opportunity to put his name into the NBA Draft, and will return to U of L for one more season. The junior guard made the announcement during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

"I really realized how much I love playing with my teammates," Smith said of his decision process. "I love to win. And with the group we have coming back, I want to come back as a winner, as well as graduate."

Smith was Louisville's leading scorer in 2012-13, averaging 18.7 points per game. He was at his best during the NCAA Tournament, where he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Midwest Region and shattered Darrell Griffith's school record for most points in a tournament. Smith, who had previously set the U of L single-season steals record, also broke the Cardinal mark for most made free-throws in season.

The news means that Louisville will return three starters, including its leading scorer, from a team that just won the national championship. They also get Final Four Most Outstanding Player Luke Hancock back for his senior season and add in a top 10 recruiting class.

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