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Report: Russ Smith to return to Louisville for senior year

Louisville Cardinals NCAA Basketball Celebration

LOUISVILLE, KY - APRIL 10: Russ Smith of the Louisville Cardinals talks during the Louisville Cardinals NCAA Basketball Celebration to mark the NCAA championship by the Mens team and the runner-up finish by the womens team at KFC YUM! Center on April 10, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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There may be an early answer to Russ Smith’s decision on the NBA Draft.

Smith, who previously told the media he was hoping to make a decision on his NBA future on Wednesday, is returning to Louisville for his senior year, according to Louisville radio host and Cardinals’ play-by-play man Drew Deener. Smith was said to be going into the draft by his father shortly after the national title game, but has been undecided recently.

If he does return, Smith would be the key piece returning for Louisville in their attempt at back-to-back national championships. As a junior, Smith averaged 18.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season, leading Louisville in scoring.

(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

Deener tweeted this out to the masses on Tuesday evening.

Just heard from a very good source that Russ Smith is going to announce tomorrow that he is returning to UofL for his senior year

— Drew Deener (@Drew_Deener) April 23, 2013


Smith hasn’t really been shown to be a first rounder in most NBA mock drafts and it may benefit him to come back for his final year for a lot of reasons, namely, ones that Deener’s sources told him.

2nd source confirmed but sd ‘keep in mind.. It’s russ’. Feedback from nba was if he improves body, shot select. And A/TO. Cud b 1st Rd in'14

— Drew Deener (@Drew_Deener) April 23, 2013


If Smith does return, that would bring back all but two players off this season’s team for Louisville, with the graduation of guard Peyton Siva and center Gorgui Dieng leaving early for the NBA Draft. Guard Mike Marra was listed on the roster, but suffered his second torn ACL as a Cardinal prior to the season and is unlikely to play again for Louisville. Forward Stephan Van Treese is also listed as a senior, but sat out most of the 2011-12 season with a knee injury as was expected to earn another year of eligibility.

UPDATE

CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman spoke with Louisville coach Rick Pitino on Tuesday evening, who maintains that Smith is undecided on his decision just yet.

Rick Pitino told CBSSports on Russ Smith decision: “Just spoke with him. He will make up his mind tomorrow after we talk. 50-50.”

— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) April 24, 2013


Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten