In an interview last month, University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino said freshman Montrezl Harrell would likely end up being on of the better late pickups he's ever signed during his coaching career.
Harrell showed a glimpse of why on Saturday night in the first Red-White scrimmage of the season for the Cardinals.
The 6-foot-8 Harrell, a former signee at Virginia Tech, had 17 points and 10 rebounds on 8 of 14 shooting for the winning Red team in his U of L debut.
"For a freshman, Montrezl looked really good," Pitino said of Harrell, who also had two steals, two blocked shots and one assist. "I didn't see a lot of difference between his game and Gorgui's (Dieng). He'll play some back up five."
Harrell, who played for assistant coach Kevin Keatts at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., said he wasn't nervous for the game.
A strong and athletic power forward, Harrell committed to U of L in early June. He's originally from North Carolina and decommitted from Virginia Tech following the departure of coach Seth Greenberg.
"I just love the game and want to play hard every time I step on the court," Harrell said. "I'm real pumped to be here. Things didn't work out at Virginia Tech but this is a great place and this is the right place for me to succeed.
"It's going to be fun for me."
Harrell gives the Cardinals a solid frontcourt along side Dieng and sophomore Chane Behanan. Harrell and Behanan are battling at the forward position and combined for 41 points and 32 rebounds in the scrimmage.
"I call him baby Chane," Kevin Ware said of Harrell.
Added Harrell: "Chane and I make each other better every day. We battle all the time. We want to guard each other. People say we play a lot a like, pushing people around and doing all the dirty work. It's fun making each other better."
Point guard and senior leader Peyton Siva said he expects Harrell to "give us a lot of good minutes" during the season.
"I told him and Chane that if we get outrebounded any this year, we are going to have to fight," Siva said with a chuckle. "We should be great on the boards with those guys and Gorgui in there. (Harrell) is a very talented freshman."