TOC: Montrezl Harrell Intro

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- If you were in the Smith Center on Friday night and didn't see Montrezl Harrell, you definitely heard him.

After nearly every big block and thunderous dunk, the 6-foot-7 forward from Tarboro, N.C. let out a scream that would make Rasheed Wallace smile.

"When I scream, it's to let people know I'm here," Harrell explained. "People sit back and think just cause of my height and that they're taller than me, that I'm not going to go hard at you. I scream at you to let you know I'm here to play."

In effect, Harrell announced his arrival as a national prospect Friday night at the Tournament of Champions. Few, if any, players generated more buzz among scouts in attendance.

His screams turned plenty of heads, his game did more than enough talking on its own. Harrell showcased his great leaping ability and a non-stop motor in an impressive 29-point, six-block performance.

With a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Harrell affected shots defensively, attacked the glass and displayed a surprisingly soft touch around the hoop. Harrell finished the game with several dunk put-backs including a one-handed flush late in the game that he corralled after running in from the weak-side three-point line.

Despite averaging a triple-double for North Edgecombe Magnet High School last season, Harrell was a relative unknown on the national scene until this spring. As a result, the 2012 power forward plays with a bit of a chip on his shoulder -- but he uses it to his advantage.

"Every time I step on the court I feel like I have something to prove," Harrell said. "I'm trying to get better every time I step on the court."

While the final outcome of an AAU game is secondary to many players, Harrell was frustrated with the way his team folded down the stretch Friday night. Harrell's Carolina Elite squad blew a second-half lead late, allowing a last-second offensive rebound and putback by the Wisconsin Playground Warriors to lose the game by two points.

"We played real well but we can't get scared like that in crunch time," Harrell said. "In a game like that, you've got to suck it up and box out. You can't have rebounds coming off for easy shots."

After the game Harrell was asked if he normally takes losses to heart and he said he did.

"I'm an emotional player," Harrell said. "When I see a game like that and I see my team not trying to go hard when it's crunch time -- that just kills you. We play hard the whole game, don't back down now because it's showtime. Just go hard until the buzzer goes off."

In the last few weeks coaches have found Harrell's passion to be a plus as the rising junior has received scholarship offers from Clemson, South Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech. He's also heard from Duke, N.C. State, Florida and Xavier.

South Carolina has shown the most interest so far and Harrell has reciprocated, saying he liked their hard-nosed, pressing defense. But Harrell was also clear that his recruitment was in its infancy and he was encouraging all newcomers.

Harrell said he hadn't heard from North Carolina yet but he'd be open to it.

"Yes, sir," Harrell said. "Like I said, it doesn't matter what school comes after me. If the school is the best fit for me and I feel I can help them then I'll go there and play."

Montrezl Harrell Profile


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