Russ Smith now being projected as 2nd pick of 2nd Round; I'm changing my opinion on his jump.

Russ Smith is getting some serious love over on DraftExpress' updated 2013 Mock Draft

This makes me me personally rethink my feelings about him going early.

As a lot of my recent comments have shown, I've been 100% supportive of that move with the feeling that, not much can improve his draft stock from here till next year (with the general perception that his stock positions him as barely a 2nd Round pick, if that).

I now must pull away from that feeling.

Not that DraftExpress is the Joe Lunardi of draft projections (NBADraftnet actually doesn't even have him in the 2nd and awesomely has Peyton in the bottom third of that round!!!), but, for Russ to be anywhere near shouting distance from the first round, yet still be solidly outside of it, I think another good year pushes him comfortably into the bottom of the 2014 Draft. And that equals GUARANTEED money.

Everybody knows his name/game now and he was already being talked about as a 1st team AA/POY candidate. Not that I think he gets either of those accolades (next year is stacked), but he could easily get a 2nd team AA nod.

Perception has so much to do with these things and I feel that, going into this year, scouts/pundits just didn't have the appetite to project a Russ in the 1st Round; I think now, the basketball world could get more comfortable with that idea.

Another salient point is Gorgui's decision. There's been a lot of credible reports saying that he keeps hinting at a return, even being explicit about it a few times. If that were to happen, I feel that a repeat NC jumps from being a remote possibility into becoming a decent probability. If Russ comes back and makes the most of that ride, it only reinforces a spot in the 1st Round.

If I was him, I'd test the waters without an agent and if the feelers come back that he's questionable to even get picked in the 2nd Round, he should just make the jump anyway. If the feedback is that he's solidly an early 2nd Round pick with NO chance of going in the 1st Round, I'd stick around another year.

What say you?

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