Russ Smith has faced the unusual challenge of reinventing himself as a senior, an age when most players are set in their ways. He did not need to do this for the University of Louisville. He needed to do this for his next step, for the NBA.

And quietly — if quiet is possible for Russ Smith — he has done exactly what was asked of him, without sacrificing his ability to lead his team.

On Tuesday night, as Smith tallied 19 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in the Cardinals’ 80-54 victory over South Florida, I asked an NBA scout for an assessment of Russ. One of his statements was stunning.

“He’s definitely, to me, a clone of Allen Iverson,” said the scout, who represents one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams. “He has a similar body type. He gets to the basket. He scores and has that mentality.”

The statement was eye-opening for several reasons. First and most obviously was the comparison to Iverson, a No. 1 draft pick and former league MVP.

But it was also notable because of what the scout had noticed. He noticed what everyone in this city has always noticed, but it revealed that maybe some NBA franchises will just want Russ to be Russ. Maybe being a cold-blooded scorer isn’t as awful as we’ve been led to believe.

“I love his speed, his toughness,” said the scout, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss draft prospects. “He can score on anybody. He can run it down your throat and get to the bucket. He can do all of that. But I wish he was bigger.”

That final concern, of course, cannot be fixed. The scout said Smith also must be able to make plays for his teammates, specifically when openings disappear and you just have to find someone, anyone, the way the best NBA players usually do.

And Smith has embraced these concerns this season, raising his assist average from 2.9 a year ago to 4.6 while also being a more judicious shooter and improving his field-goal and 3-point percentages.

I mentioned the Iverson comparison to Smith after the game, and his eyes went wide, in a Hey-I-like-to-hear-that kind of way.