Originally written on The Cardinal Connect  |  Last updated 7/26/13

LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 11: Rick Pitino the Head Coach of the Louisville Cardinals gives instructions to his team during the exhibition game against the Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers at the KFC Yum! Center on November 11, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville won 96-54. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Over the years, Rick Pitino has brought in a number of talented players. He’s also brought in a handful of guys who weren’t very highly regarded coming out of high school, but by the time they left the program, they played a huge role in the team’s success. Below is my list of the top five most improved players during the Rick Pitino era. There are tons of guys who improved throughout their career, but I’m talking about the guys that you didn’t necessarily expect much from as they entered the program, but ended up providing a lot. Russ Smith: I’m not sure we’ll ever see a player improve quite as much as Russ Smith has over the years. Russ was build like a junior varsity high school guard when he arrived on campus. He played very little as a freshman and it seemed certain that he’d transfer the following year. Well we were totally wrong about that. Not only dude Russ make a huge from freshman to sophomore, he made an ever bigger jump from sophomore to junior. One of the biggest impro...
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