Monday, June 4, 2012
Montrezl Harrell gives Louisville bonus size
By Eamonn Brennan
Louisville's frontcourt was already quite good. Power forward Chane Behanan is prepared to take a star sophomore leap. Center Gorgui Dieng could already be the nation's best shot-blocker not named Jeff Withey or Nerlens Noel, while Dieng's offensive and overall skills continue to evolve with experience. Now-healthy small forward Wayne Blackshear could be a revelation as a sophomore, while fellow formerly injured reserves Rakeem Buckles and Stephan Van Treese are more than capable of playing big minutes.
As the No. 89-ranked player overall in the 2012 class, Harrell may not be an immediate star for the Cardinals -- and good luck breaking into that lineup anyway -- but he could very well be a key reserve and energy addition as a young, raw player off the bench, where Rick Pitino's team will now be as deep as nearly any top team in the country. Harrell committed, according to his coach, in large part thanks to his relationship with Louisville assistant Kevin Keatts, the former coach at Virginia-based Hargrave Military Academy who originally recruited Harrell to the prep school before accepting a job at Louisville last spring.
Harrell's commitment isn't 100 percent good news: It does create a scholarship logjam for the Cardinals, which will require some -- ahem -- creative reshuffling by Pitino similar to last summer, when a new batch of recruits forced Pitino to ask Kyle Kuric, Chris Smith and Elisha Justice to give up their scholarships and play as preferred walk-ons instead. Last summer's moves were made more elegant by Kuric's (whose father is a surgeon) and Smith's (whose older brother is well-paid New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith) dual willingness to pay for school. The process of finding an open scholarship for Harrell may be slightly messier.
In any case, though, it's another solid addition to a Louisville team expected by many to compete seriously for a national title in 2012-13. The Cardinals were already big and talented and deep. Those traits are only accentuated by Harrell's addition to the fold.