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February 13, 2013

Pitino wants three players to test NBA waters




The season still has hal of February and all of March to go, but Louisville coach Rick Pitino has three players he believes should test the NBA waters in April.

On his weekly radio show Wednesday night from Buffalo Wild Wings in Louisville, Pitino said he will recommend juniors Gorgui Dieng and Russ Smith and sophomore Chane Behanan put their name into the NBA's pre-draft evaluation process.

Pitino said he "will insist" they put their names into the evaluation process so they can see what the professionals think of their game.

The Cardinal coach's pronouncement may seem like odd timing with UofL losting four of its last seven games including Saturday night's 104-101 five overtime loss to Notre Dame, but he's been saying similar things for most of the season. In December, he said he believes Behanan will turn pro at the end of this season.

Pitino has also joked about not being able to survive another season with Smith, a player he has nicknamed Russdiculous for his wild ways.

Smith is averaging 18.3 points per game this season, and is one of 12 finalists for the National Player of the Year award. Behanan is averaging 11.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this season.

Dieng is an interesting case. The 6-foot-10 Senegalese big man has said his father wants him to stay to get his degree from UofL before considering professional basketball, but Pitino said he may need to go this year because of his age.

"I believe Gorgui shouldn't come back," Pitino said, explaining that NBA officials drop the draft stock of players over a certain age. "That said, if he is not a 1st round draft pick he should come back."

Dieng has played in just 17 games this season, but he is nearly averaging a double-double, 9.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.


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