Montrezl Harrell showing major improvements

Based on reports from offseason workouts, University of Louisville sophomore Montrezl Harrell has been the most improved player for the Cardinals since the season ended in April. Harrell made the USA Basketball U-19 World Championship team and coach Rick Pitino said he would start next season at the 5 spot. Cardinal Authority talked with Harrell about his offseason.

Montrezl Harrell has been getting a lot of offseason love.

Harrell has been called by many who have seen the Cardinals workouts as the most improved player since the national title game and recently he was named to the USA Basketball U-19 World Championship team.

And University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino even threw him some praise saying he has been "really good" in individual workouts the team has had since the season, noting Harrell would start at the 5-spot next season.

"I'm just working hard, trying to get better," Harrell said. "Losing Gorgui (Dieng) for us is a big loss, I just have to improve to be ready for my role.

"I feel like I have to get better in some areas and just have to make sure to keep playing hard, keep my motor going."

Harrell averaged 6.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game as a Louisville freshman. He was a key member of the team during the postseason, including a season-high 20 in the Big East title game win over Syracuse.

Currently in Washington, D.C., training with the USA team, Harrell and the other 11 members of that team will leave for the Czech Republic tomorrow for the competition that runs through July 6.

"It's great competition and just an honor for me," said Harrell, who won a gold medal last summer with USA Basketball. "It's a great feeling for me to be able to represent my country and it's going to make me better."

In the USA Basketball tryouts, Harrell stepped out and hit at least three three-pointers. He said he's been working hard on his outside game.

"Ballhandling and shooting from 15-fett out," Harrell said. "Those are the things I really need to improve and have been trying to improve. Really just my all-around game and trying to get better."

As far as the role of playing the center position in Pitino's lineup, Harrell said, "whatever is best for the team," noting he and Chane Behanan could cause problems for a lot of opposing teams.

"Down low, both of us have a variety of moves, we're versatile," Harrell said. "It should be tough for a lot of teams to matchup against us."

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