Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell, Terry Rozier both going pro
The Elite Eight didn’t just mark the end of the season for the Louisville Cardinals, it marked the end of the college careers of two of their players.
Both Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier are leaving the program and heading to the NBA, head coach Rick Pitino announced Monday. Neither decision is particularly surprising, as both players can reasonably be expected to be taken in the first round of June’s NBA Draft.
“They’re both leaving, yes, 100 percent,” Pitino said. “And it’s the right thing to do for both of them.”
It’s definitely the right thing to do in the case of Harrell, whose draft stock hasn’t changed over three seasons at Louisville. Like in 2013 and 2014, he’s expected to be taken in the 15-25 range now that he’s officially, and finally, entering the fold.
Harrell averaged 15.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks this season, shooting 56.6 percent from the floor. He closed the NCAA tournament strong, too, impressing with his playmaking and defense in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight.
An incredibly high-energy forward with great length and athleticism, Harrell should at worst be an energy reserve player at the NBA level. He can’t shoot from outside at all and is undersized if he’s deployed at the four, but his ability off the ball and his track record as a defender and rebounder should help make up for some of those perceived deficiencies.
The case for Rozier is somewhat more tenuous, but more than just draft stock goes into these decisions.
“You all may have some doubts about Terry, but I don’t,” Pitino said. “Terry looks at home and sees his mom working two jobs, and she’s going 16, 17 hours a day. And he says, ‘OK, maybe I wouldn’t be drafted as high as I would be if I waited one more year, but I’d rather sacrifice that for my mom not having to work two jobs.”
The sophomore point guard probably could have used an extra year of seasoning thanks to losing his freshman year almost entirely to injury. His draft stock rose throughout the campaign, he was impressive in the tournament, save for the final game, and there’s a good chance his quickness and length play up well in pre-draft workouts.
Rozier averaged 17.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, three assists and two steals on the season, strong numbers that came on fairly inefficient shooting – he hit 41.1 percent from the floor and 30.6 percent from outside. He’ll need to reign in his game some, as it can be a little out-of-control, but it’s that same chaotic approach that makes him a potentially dangerous scorer at the next level.