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Russ Smith Wins Big East Scholar-Athlete Sports Excellence Award

Streeter Lecka

Russ Smith has put a cap on his tremendous 2012-13 season by being named the winner of the Big East's Scholar-Athlete Sports Excellence Award for men's basketball.

The Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Awards are given to one student-athlete in each of the 24 BIG EAST-sponsored sports based on academic credentials, athletic accolades or performances and volunteer service to the community. Student-athletes who have attained junior academic standing and a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.00 are eligible. The winners are chosen by the BIG EAST Faculty Athletics Representative Council.

A rising senior, Smith is majoring in communication and helped the men's basketball team achieve a perfect 1000 academic progress rate score for the most recent 2011-12 year. Individually, Smith was honored with a 2013 Scholar Baller Academic Momentum Award, which is presented to an individual based on the level of academic improvement and the impact of that academic momentum.

Athletically, the Brooklyn, N.Y., native was a major component in Louisville winning its third NCAA title in school history. Named an All-American by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and Sporting News, he finished the year averaging 18.7 points per game, a mark that ranked 35th nationally. For the NCAA Tournament, Smith scored 22.3 points per contest in the NCAA Tournament. Defensively, he ranked 36th in the country with 2.08 steals per game.

Smith was one of four Cardinals to receive the league honor. Others collecting the award were Nikki Boltja (women's lacrosse), Erin Conrad (field hockey), and Alex Burtch (swimming and diving).

Russ is the second Cardinal in as many years to earn the honor, as Peyton Siva was the recipient for the 2011-12 season.

Just like we all predicted.