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Russ Smith Named Senior CLASS Award Candidate

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Andy Lyons

Russ Smith is one of 30 candidates for the men's basketball 2013-14 Senior CLASS Award, it was announced on Wednesday.

Smith, a team tri-captain, is the only player on the list whose team is ranked in the preseason top five.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.

The American Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year, Smith is a Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook first team All-America selection. He also was tabbed a preseason All-America first-team member by CBSSports.com. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native averaged 18.7 points per game last season, totaled 83 steals, an average 2.1 per game, and finished the year with 748 points, the fifth-highest total in the country.

Smith, who earned All-America honors from multiple media outlets last year, compiled plenty of awards for his on-the-court performance: 2012-13 Ken Pomeroy National Player of the Year, all-BIG EAST first team, all-BIG EAST Tournament Team, and Midwest Regional Most Outstanding Player.

He also accumulated academic accolades, being named the 2012-13 BIG EAST Conference Scholar-Athlete Sports Excellence Award for men's basketball. Smith received the 2013 Academic Momentum Award, as presented by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports, and was selected to the Scholar Baller program, an honor which is based on the level of academic improvement.

The candidate classes will be narrowed to 10 men's and 10 women's finalists midway through the regular season, and those names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches, and fans, who will select one men's finalist and one women's finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2013 NCAA Final Four® in Arlington, Texas, on April 5 and 7.

For more information on each of the candidates, visit www.seniorCLASSaward.com. Smith's profile on the site can be found here.