Louisville junior guard Russ Smith is returning to school, giving coach Rick Pitino and the Cardinals a shot at back-to-back national championships.
"I really realized how much I enjoyed playing with my teammates and how much fun it is to win," he said at a news conference Wednesday, following Pitino's opening remarks.
Smith led the team in scoring with 18.6 points per game and helped spark the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament to a national title in Atlanta.
"When he leaves," Pitino said, "he is going to be one of the most successful Louisville basketball players ever."
Smith had said earlier this week he was losing sleep over whether he should enter the NBA draft or play his final season in college. He was aggressively seeking input from players and coaches, including a meeting with Pitino Tuesday. Many in the NBA said Smith could use another year in school; he was widely projected as a second-round pick.
For now, Smith, who turned 22 last week, can focus on defending a championship with an impressive lineup and further develop his 6-1, 165-pound frame. Pitino said he challenged Smith to add about 10 pounds of muscle before next season. Smith's goal is to be a first-round pick.
--- Syracuse forward C.J. Fair will play for the Orange as a senior in 2013-14.
"I believe he's just going to keep getting better and better as a basketball player and earning his degree is important," coach Jim Boeheim said in a statement.
Fair, the best offensive weapon the team had in a 22-point performance in the Final Four loss to Michigan, put up 14.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game last season.
"After talking it over with my family and my coaches, I decided another year at Syracuse was best for me," Fair said in a statement. "I'm excited about working hard with my teammates to put together another great season and graduating has also been a goal of mine."
--- Southern California has a new coach in former Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield. On Wednesday, Enfield and the Trojans lost center Dewayne Dedmon, who said he will forgo his final two years with the Trojans and enter the NBA Draft.
The junior 7-foot center averaged 6.7 points and 7.0 rebounds this past season. He also blocked more than two shots per game.
"It's just my time to chase my dream and go to the NBA," Dedmon said in a statement. "I had a great time at USC and it was a good experience. I had some ups and downs and learned a lot and believe it is best for me to turn professional at this time."
One of those downs -- he was suspended for the Trojan's final game of the season, allegedly for being involved in a fight.
--- Frank Martin and South Carolina won a recruiting battle on Thursday with Miami (Fla.) for the services of Demetrius Henry.
Martin, who guided the Gamecocks to a 4-14 record in SEC play in his first year already had recruited a solid class, including top-50 guard Sindarius Thornwell. Another player who should contribute immediately is Villanova transfer Ty Johnson.
Henry, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Faith Baptist (Fla.), is a high-energy player who can rebound and possesses a solid offensive game. With the Gamecocks lacking experience on the interior, Henry could see plenty of action as a freshman.