Virginia Tech Coaching Change Paid Off For UofL Basketball

Montrezl Harrell was a late addition to the 2012-13 UofL basketball team. The former Virginia Tech signee reopened his recruitment when Seth Greenberg was fired as the Hokies head coach. Harrell played last season at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, where he averaged 25.2 points, 13.6 rebounds and three blocks a game. UofL assistant Kevin Keatts recruited Harrell to Hargrave before joining the Cards staff. Montrezl is expected to play major minutes for the No. 2 Cards, backing up Gorgui Dieng in the middle and seeing time at power forward as well.

Kent Taylor: What other schools did you consider when you were making your decision?

Montrezl Harrell: When I first got my release, I had Louisville, Baylor, UConn, Wisconsin, LSU, Alabama, Arkansas.

K.T.: How many of those did you visit?

M.H.: This was my only real visit. I talked to a lot of the coaches and then I looked at the programs. This was the visit I took and I felt like this was the best place for me to be.

K.T.: How much of a factor was Coach Keatts?

M.H.: He was a big factor because before he came here he was the head coach at Hargrave, and that’s what really influenced my decision to go to Hargrave. I went there and had a great senior year, and when he came here, when I got my release, he really played a big role in getting me here because he knew me and talked to Coach Pitino about me.

K.T.: What do you see as your role on this team?

M.H.: The role I’ll play is the guy who does whatever coach needs me to do. I rebound, I block shots and I run the floor, and that’s the type of game I’m going to bring. I’m a high energy, high motor type of guy.

K.T.: Your teammates say the one thing that jumps out about you is that you finish at the rim, is that fair to say?

M.H.: That’s what I do. Most of the time when I get the ball down low, they say that I try to dunk everything. The way I look at it, is why try to lay it up, you could miss a layup, but if (you) dunk it, most every time you’re going to make it.

K.T.: How much better has it made you going against Chane (Behanan) and Gorgui  (Dieng) in practice?

M.H.: It’s made me better because I go up against Gorgui sometimes, but I try to go up against Chane all the time, because he’s been in the program and he kind of knows what coach is looking for. We battle every day because we’re trying to make each other better.

K.T.: What did you think of the atmosphere in the scrimmages?

M.H.: The atmosphere has been crazy. It’s crazy how all these people come and support us just for a intrasquad scrimmage, it’s crazy, I love every bit of it.

K.T.: When you are walking around campus, going to class, do people know who you are?

M.H.: Yeah, every time we go into our student activities center to eat and stuff like that, whenever we have different visitors and people walking on campus, most of the time they ask us for autographs and just crowd around us. It’s a great feeling.

K.T.: For the guys who are coming back, would the Final Four be enough this year, or are the goals higher, and having done that, they want to take the next step?

M.H.: The guys that came back, Peyton (Siva), Gorgui, Chane, Kevin (Ware), these guys really want more. They feel like the Final Four was good, but that was last year, and they want more than they got last year. That’s a great goal to have and I’m on board with them in trying to help them accomplish that goal.

K.T.: Is this team good enough to do that, to win the National Championship?

M.H.: I think we are, I think we are. We have a whole lot of key pieces people don’t know about, they don’t know how hard we’ve been working. I think we can really do it.