The 2013 National Champion Louisville Cardinal men’s basketball team traveled to Washington D.C. on Tuesday to be honored by President Barack Obama. The leading scorer from the 2013 team, Russ Smith, didn’t make the trip. Instead, Russ was in Estonia where he’ll be competing for the East Coast All Stars in the Four Nations Cup.
This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise if you’re familiar with Russ Smith. Although getting a chance to meet the President of the United States is a once in a lifetime opportunity, it’s just not his Smith’s nature to turn down an opportunity to compete and win.
“Man, I don’t even know. I don’t even know what to expect to be for real,” Smith told SlamOnline.com prior to leaving the country. “But what I can say is that we’re going to play hard and try our best to win some games.”
Although Russ wasn’t in attendance at the White House on Tuesday he was still mentioned by President Obama. “We are all excited to see what Russdiculous has in store for his senior year,” Obama said as he mentioned some of the key players on the championship team.
The nickname “Russdiculous” isn’t just a name that Louisville fans use when mentioning Russ. Any big time college basketball fan and any college basketball media member recognizes Smith by the nickname he received from Pitino during his sophomore year. Unfortunately, the nickname can sometimes be perceived in a negative way. Russ doesn’t seem to mind though.
“I don’t really mind it. Sometimes it brings a negative perception,” says Smith. “But I just play basketball and I’m a winner. At the end of the day there are guys with names like Mr. Fundamental, but they don’t have two-straight Final Fours and a National Championship. I have rings, man.”
Smith already has one national championship ring and I’m sure he plans on claiming another one in 2014.
In his first game with the East Coast All Stars in Estonia on Tuesday night, Smith finished with 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.