Off the Court: Pelicans guard Russ Smith

New Orleans Pelicans point guard Russ Smith enters the NBA as arguably the most accomplished college player in the 2014 rookie draft class. The 6-foot, 165-pounder twice appeared in the Final Four – including in New Orleans in 2012 – and won an NCAA crown his junior season at the University of Louisville the following year. The 23-year-old New York City native detailed more of his background and some of his interests away from basketball for Pelicans.com:

Best moments as an athlete: “Winning a national championship in college at Louisville; beating Florida to go to the Final Four and playing the final eight minutes of that game at point guard; and my Senior Night last season. That was really special – we beat UConn by 40-something points and I had 14 assists. That was pretty amazing.”

How he chose his current uniform number of 9: “I thought it was time for a change. I knew I was going to leave 2 at Louisville and start something different. Fate gave me this number being available, so I took it and I want to make something out of it. There were a few numbers I could’ve taken, but I just decided to go with 9. Plus, Rajon Rondo (who wears 9 for Boston) was one of my favorite point guards before coming into the league. He’s from Louisville and I got a chance to know him really well. I played some open runs with him for the last three years, hung out with him a few times. He’s a good guy to be on the same team with!” [smiles]

One thing fans might be surprised to know about him: “I listen to a lot of different music and I’m very social.”

Favorite thing about New Orleans: “The food. That’s all I know so far.”

Pregame ritual: “I listen to music and get to the arena early.”

First job: “I did an internship my senior year at Louisville at a television station called WHAS.”

Favorite athlete as a kid: “Definitely Tracy McGrady, by far. I was a big fan. I also liked Kevin Martin throughout high school. He played at Western Carolina and is a great shooter.”

What he’d be doing if he weren’t an NBA player: “I really didn’t think I’d make it to the NBA, to be honest. If I wasn’t here, I think I’d be a sports broadcaster on TV or a sideline reporter.”

Closest friends currently playing on other NBA teams or in other pro sports: “A guy I went to high school with, Dennis O’Grady, plays baseball for the San Diego Padres. Also I’m friends with Mo Harkless, Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb. Mo and Tobias play for Orlando; Doron is with Dallas now. And Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota) and Peyton Siva (Detroit), from Louisville, those are guys everyone knows I’m friends with. I grew up with Doron in New York City. Mo and I were great friends growing up.”

Favorite type of music: “It doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s good music, I will listen to it.”

Favorite TV show: “It’s not around anymore, but I always watched the Dave Chappelle Show. Also, 50 Cent is one of my favorite people, so he’s going to make me start watching Power.”

Favorite movies of all time: “The whole Pirates of the Caribbean series was great. I’m a big fan of Johnny Depp. Also, The Bourne Identity movies with Matt Damon; and The Matrix with Keanu Reeves.”

Favorite websites: “Now it’s Nike Elite. Other than that, maybe YouTube, or I’ll go to Worldstarhiphop.com and see what’s going on.”