LOUISVILLE, Ky. – University of Louisville’s Russ Smith and Montrezl Harrell are listed on the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50, the Los Angeles Athletic Club announced Tuesday afternoon from Los Angeles. Louisville is one of 10 schools with at least two candidates for the sport’s prestigious honor.
It marks the second-consecutive year the Cardinals have placed at least two student-athletes on the list after populating last year’s preseason top 50 with three.
Smith, a preseason Associated Press All-American, has received All-America accolades from Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and CBSSports.com. The senior also was tabbed as the American Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year.
The Brooklyn, N.Y., native scored a game-high 21 in Louisville’s season-opening victory against College of Charleston, going 7 of 17 from the field while also tallying five assists. His one steal put him in sole possession of 10th on the school’s career steals chart at 184.
Last season, Smith averaged 18.7 points and 2.1 steals per game en route to being named the 2013 Ken Pomeroy National Player of the Year.
A sophomore, Harrell was recognized during the preseason after playing a pivotal role last year in the Cardinals’ run to their third NCAA title in school history. A third-team preseason All-America selection by The Sporting News and a second-team choice by USA Today, Harrell was listed third in CBSSports.com's Top 30 Breakout Players. He was a second-team all-American Athletic Conference selection by the league coaches.
Harrell had a productive season opener as well, nearly tallying a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds. He also recorded four steals.
The Tarboro, N.C., native played in all 40 games last year, averaging 6.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game. He shot a solid 61.5 percent from the field and totaled a career-best 20 points to lead Louisville to a comeback victory over Syracuse for the BIG EAST Tournament title.
The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the midseason list and the official voting ballot, which will consist of approximately 20 top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The Wooden Award All American Team, consisting of the nation’s top 10 players, will be announced the week of the NCAA Tournament regional final.
About the John R. Wooden Award
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. It is bestowed upon the nation’s best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84), Tim Duncan (’97), Candace Parker (’07 and ’08), Kevin Durant (’09) and Maya Moore of Connecticut (’09 and ‘11). Michigan’s Trey Burke won the 2013 Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s.
Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed close to a million dollars to universities’ general scholarship fund in the names of the All American recipients. The Award has also sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps in the Award’s name. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The day-long tournament, which brings together Special Olympic athletes and the All Americans, takes place at The Los Angeles Athletic Club the weekend of the John R. Wooden Award Ceremony.
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