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Pitino Says Cardinal Underclassmen Should Test NBA Waters

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Andy Lyons

Rick Pitino said on his weekly radio show that he will insist that Cardinal underclassmen Russ Smith, Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan test the NBA waters by going through the pre-draft evaluation process during the spring.

Pitino has consistently said that he doesn't expect to have Dieng back next season, and that he should leave because he is older than most college juniors, something NBA franchises will take into consideration. Pitino went on to clarify that Dieng should only go if he knows he's going to be a first round pick, and that he should come back to school for his senior season if that isn't the case.

As for Smith and Behanan, Pitino joked that he couldn't take another year of Russdiculous, but repeated seriously that he wants both to throw their names into the NBA Draft mix.

My take: I think his thoughts on Gorgui are genuine, and that's that. As for Russ and Chane, I think he knows both have had the NBA on their mind at various points this season, and he either wants both to go ahead and make it if they can or come back to school adequately humbled and ready to work. It's a solid logic. The worst-case-scenario for a guy like Chane Behanan would be for him not to test the waters but tell himself (and anyone else willing to listen) that he would have been a lottery pick if he had.

The best thing for the draft stock of all three - as well as anyone else on the team looking to play professionally - is for Louisville to win big over the next eight weeks.