Pitino comments on Donta Smith's decision

Transcript of University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino's comments made to 84 WHAS Sports Talk show host Tony Cruise Thursday evening. Additional comments from Southeastern C.C. head coach Todd Franklin.

Todd Franklin, Head Coach, Southeastern C.C.:

He told me today that he sent the papers in. Up until this week we really didn't think he was going to do this at all, but sometimes kids make decisions. He had said that he really wanted to do it. I don't know exactly what was the rational, but that's what happened.

On Smith's academic standing: I don't want to get into that a whole lot. That's getting into the kids business a little bit. He was going to be like a lot of kids that we have had in the past in that he was probably going to need to do some summer work, but I think that it would have happened…they have graduated in the past. Certainly there was nothing to say that he couldn't do that.

On not calling Pitino: The first inkling from Donta to me was Tuesday of this week and he said that he was now thinking about it, so I said that you have got to call the guys at Louisville and let them know. He's been signed with Louisville since the fall and they have had complete access to him the entire year. Normally we don't let guys sign early, but we let him sign with Louisville early and they have been able to have as much contact with him as they would like, so I don't know exactly why or what the conversations throughout the year have been on that. From my end we have tried to communicate the fact that we have NBA guys in here all year long watching him play. Now as far as advising what to do has been that you need to go play at Louisville and up until just right now that was what he was going to do. Donta had never given me any to show that it would be a different decision than that. I think that they should all go to school.

On the possibility of Smith changing his mind: Well, he has not signed with an agent. At least that is exactly what I have been told by Donta and I have no reason to believe otherwise. I'm not the expert on all the eligibility issues, but he hasn't signed with an agent, so I think he probably can.

University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino:

It's not devastating, in the sports world maybe you could use that word, but it's disappointing. We are in this business and what we are as coaches is high priced teachers. Teachers in the classroom want one thing…they want their students to succeed and as coaches, you are in this business obviously to win and to see your young men succeed. Sometimes kids go down the wrong path, because I don't know who they listen to. They get the wrong advice. We called the [NBA] office today to see if Donta was on the radar screen and he's not even on the radar screen. You don't know who kids listen to today and unfortunately he didn't get very good advice, but he'll have the opportunity to change and try to get on the radar screen by trying to play himself in it…very similar to what Keith Bogans tried to do.

On talking to Donta about his decision: He didn't seek our advice. Vince Taylor was up there twice in the last ten days, just trying to get his grades straightened out and he never mentioned anything that he was thinking about it and we never heard from the coach at all. The only thing that we know is that the coach is going to have a press conference and we didn't know what was going on.

On when he found out: We found out this afternoon. We found out from media outlets that spoke with the coach. The coach never called us to let us know that he was even considering it. Again, we were up there twice in the last ten days and Donta never mentioned a thing to Vince about it. Vince Taylor's brother-in-law is Stu Jackson and he is very much in charge in running the NBA Draft in Chicago. He's one of the key components to running to that whole thing, so Vince has a wealth of information out there. We don't rely on the internet, we rely on reality to inform our players of what's right and wrong. Sebastian Telfair is the opposite of what happened here. He called me each step along the way and asked, what do you think about this and what do you think about that and immediately when he told me about the possibility of a shoe deal I got on the phone with the shoe company and asked, is this true, because I wanted to try and protect him from being led astray. It was a fact and it hurt us, but it was in the best interest of Sebastian. This is the total opposite, [Donta] has to prove it on the court. It's like a stock. If you go to Chicago and you don't make it, your stock goes down and then it's very difficult. You have to know when to strike and when not to strike.

On what Donta needs to improve: He needs to learn to play off the ball offensively and he needs to learn to play against competition. He hasn't played against competition. He hasn't been pushed in practice that much because there's not there as well. He needs to learn to shoot the basketball with form. It's a matter of an NBA team to see his potential and take a gamble and use a pick with him.

On any chance of Donta playing at U of L: As long as he doesn't get an agent, but when you don't seek out a college coach who spent nine years in the NBA or an assistant coach who has been in the NBA or a guy who has 18,000 points and 6,000 assists, another one of our assistants, while in the NBA…where there's smoke, there's fire. He's listening to some people who are just not well informed. It's probably better that he does move on. We have a lot of doors that are opening up for us at Louisville. For the first that I have been here we have doors opening up all around the country and we are very excited about that.


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