Saturday, January 25, 2014

Louisville's Russ Smith escorts freshman high school player to homecoming

 Louisville senior captain and leading scorer Russ Smith agreed to escort a Manual girls basketball player during homecoming festivities Friday night, after that girl's date didn't show up.

Smith was there to support a friend who is an assistant coach on the Eastern High School boys' basketball team. Eastern played at Manual Friday night.

Tonysha Curry, a freshman on the Manual girls basketball team, waited and waited for her date to arrive. He never did. Curry and her friends noticed the Louisville star sitting court-side, and Curry got up the nerve to go and ask Smith to step in as her homecoming escort.

"I had an escort, and he had won the homecoming for king. But he hadn't been coming to the practices. So, he didn't come to the game apparently," Curry said. "I was like, ‘There's Russ Smith. Oh my God. What if he escorted me?' Everybody was like, ‘Go do it! Go do it!'"

So Curry did. Russ Smith's response?

"Can I do that?"

"I was like, ‘Yeah, you can! You can,'" urged Curry to Smith.

"I didn't know," said Smith, when recalling being asked to take part in the homecoming festivities. "It just all happened too fast. She said, ‘Please, it would really make my day, make my night.' It actually made my day probably more than hers. I'm kind of really happy about it."

Let's recap: Freshman girl in high school gets ditched by the homecoming king. The leading scorer on the NCAA college basketball national championship team takes his place. Yet it made Russ Smith's day more than Tonysha Curry's? Russdiculous, please explain.

"It just never happens. It's something that's one in a million," replied Smith. "You just have to live in the moment. It may not ever happen to me again. That made my day."

"I could not breathe," said Curry recalling the moment, when she took Smith's arm and walked to half-court. "I was almost in tears crying. We even had conversations. We were talking to each other."

Smith was a finalist for Louisville's 2013 Homecoming King, but he was beaten out by teammate and Final Four Most Outstanding Player Luke Hancock. No matter. Curry got her man.

"Oh my God. Best day of my life."

Kudos to Smith for giving Curry a memory that will last a lifetime.

Georgetown's Josh Smith out for the season for academic reasons

Georgetown's Josh Smith might go down as one of college basketball's most puzzling players.

Smith was a talented high school player and a McDonald's All American and that netted him a scholarship to UCLA. Unfortunately for UCLA, Smith took the McDonald's billing literally and ballooned to 300+ pounds and never got into playing shape. When he was on the court he flashed the skills that made him one of the top high school players in the nation, but due to his weight issues and inability to mesh with then UCLA head coach Ben Howland, Smith often found himself on the bench.

Smith played six games for UCLA in 2012-2013 and decided to transfer to Georgetown. Hoyas coach John Thompson III was willing to grant Smith a second chance and surprisingly Smith was given immediate eligibility by the NCAA.

Smith paid immediate dividends as he reached double-digit points in seven of his first nine games. Water finally net its level regarding Smith's production as he averaged less than six in his final four games. His final game was on January 4 against St. John's as he scored six points and grabbed five rebounds.

That was his final appearance because Georgetown has ruled Smith academically ineligible for the remainder of the season.

This is a big blow to the Hoyas as a season that started as a Big East contender is now on the brink. The team released forward Greg Whittington, and starting guard Jabril Trawick is out with a broken jaw.

Coach Thompson released a statement regarding Smith's status with the team.

"It's disappointing," Thompson said. "So much was geared toward [Josh's] presence. "Now here in the middle of the season, between [Smith] and Jabril, you lose two starters," Thompson said outside the team's practice court inside McDonough Arena. "You have to reshuffle everything. But this is Georgetown. We have a set of standards here. Everyone has a responsibility above and beyond what goes on those doors right there. He let his teammates down, but the rest of the group will try to regroup here and figure it out."

Hopefully Smith sticks around and figures it out. He has a ton of talent but it has gone untapped in a big way. But knowing Smith from the outside looking in, I don't see him staying at Georgetown to fix his academic problems.

I could be wrong in this assessment on his future. I see him as a future D-League player or trying to go to Europe. Cliff notes version, he's gonna be a basketball vagabond.