It’s been two years since the Cardinals hoisted the national championship trophy high in Atlanta’s Philips Arena. And for one Louisville junior, those memories are not far removed.
Montrezl Harrell has been a staple in the program for the past three years. The 6-foot-8 forward helped lead the team to a 24-8 (12-6 ACC) and No. 4 seed in the East region bracket, and like the other 67 teams going to the dance, will work to help the Cards clench another national championship title.
Here’s what you need to know about Montrezl Harrell:
1. Harrell Is the All-Time Dunk Leader in Louisville History
On December 9, 2014 against Indiana University, Harrell broke a 26-year-old record to became the all-time leader in dunks in Louisville basketball history. His 163 career dunk mark passed Pervis Ellison’s 162 career record set in 1988.
— UL Flying Card (@ULFlyingCard) December 10, 2014
This came just over 10 months from when Harrell bypassed the single-season dunks record – 59 – also held by Ellison and Chane Behanan (2012-13). Pitino told Cardinal Sports Zone:
It’s really remarkable that he set this record as a sophomore. And especially when you consider that he didn’t play that much as a freshman so for him to set it as a sophomore is really something.
And it’s crazy to think he still has another year of eligibility to add to his record, should he opt out of the 2015 NBA Draft.
2. Harrell Is Within the Top 25 NBA Mock Draft Picks
In addition to being the program’s all-time dunk leader, Harrell is close to averaging a double-double this season – 15.4 points, 9.3 boards, 1.3 blocks and 1.2 assists per game. Harrell is also within the top 10 of the ACC in four different stat categories. His points per game put him eighth in the conference, he’s in the 10 slot for blocked shots and he’s third in both rebounds and field goal percentage. According to DraftExpress, Harrell is No. 2 among NCAA juniors and No. 18 overall for the 2015 NBA Draft. He falls between Providence’s Kris Dunn (No. 17) and Michigan’s Caris Levert (No.19).
3. Harrell Wasn’t Even a Top 50 Recruit in High School
Harrell was a three sport athlete – he played football and ran track in addition to basketball – and attended North Edgecombe High School in North Carolina before transferring to Hargrave Military High School in Chatham, Virginia his senior year. As a senior he averaged 25.2 points, 13.6 rebounds and three blocks and helped lead his team to a 38-1 record – their only loss coming in the national prep championship game to Brewster Academy. He had an impressive performance in an overtime win over Fishburne Military School, 122-119, Harrell had 51 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks. Heading into his freshman year at Louisville, he told Cardinals Athletic Department that this was his “best moment of his athletic career to date.” Harrell was named the MVP of two post-season all-star games – the Capital Classic and the Jordan Brand Classic – and won a gold medal with the 2012 USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. While Harrell, who is remembered by many for shattering a backboard during practice with one of his massive dunks, was ranked No. 7 in the state, nationally he was rated as the No. 72 overall recruit by Scout, No. 82 by Rivals and No. 90 in the ESPN Top 100.
4. Harrell Originally Signed With Virginia Tech
Although Harrell has been suiting up in red, black and white for the past three years, he originally committed to wearing burnt orange and maroon. The North Carolina native, initially signed a national letter-of-intent with Virginia Tech, but after the Hokies fired head coach Seth Greenberg, he was released from the school. Harrell received offers from Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, Cincinnati and South Carolina, but signed with Louisville in 2012.
5. Harrell Was Rumored to Be Dating Patrick Ewing’s Daughter
Harrell shook up the Twittersphere with speculations that he was dating the daughter of NBA Hall of Fame player and 11-time NBA All-Star Patrick Ewing, who also played under Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino when they both were with the Knicks. One of his three children, Randi Ewing, enrolled at Louisville for her final year of eligibility. She graduated from Fordham but was going to grad school at U of L and wanted to put her final playing year to use with the Cardinals volleyball team. While at Louisville, rumors of the Harrell-Ewing relationship reached Twitter and SB Nation.
Just discovered that Patrick Ewing’s daughter plays volleyball at Louisville, and apparently is dating Montrezl Harrell.
— David Harten (@David_Harten) January 6, 2014
Damn Montrezl Harrell dates Patrick Ewings daughter, who plays on The volleyball team at UofL #SmallWorld
— . (@BlackMagic93) November 16, 2013
And during an interview with SB Nation’s Mike Rutherford, Pitino confirmed. Rutherford described:
Pitino plays a Pitbull song on his iPhone. As the song blares, Kamenish notices from Pitino’s office window Cardinals forward Montrezl Harrell with a girlfriend. “That’s Patrick Ewing’s daughter,” Pitino says. Then he cues up another Pitbull song.