Mar 28, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Louisville Cardinals guard Russ Smith (2) celebrates with forward Montrezl Harrell (24) in the first half in the semifinals of the midwest regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament against the Kentucky Wildcats at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Montrezl Harrell announces return to Louisville for junior season

After a big-time breakout during his sophomore season with the Louisville Cardinals, many believed that sophomore big man Montrezl Harrell would be headed for the 2014 NBA Draft, but on Monday, Harrell announced that he will be returning for his junior season in college instead.

Harrell is one of the most highly rated NBA Draft prospects to announce his return, as the 6-foot-8 power forward was ranked at #15 by ESPN and #20 by Draft Express among all available talent. As a sophomore with Louisville, Harrell more than doubled his production from his freshman campaign, as he averaged 14.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game to go along with a highly impressive 61% clip from the field.

Aside from Harrell passing on some big potential dollars as a professional, this is a huge win for Louisville. The Cardinals had an unfortunate, close-fought exit to Kentucky during the NCAA Tournament, but with only Russ Smith and Luke Hancock headed to the NBA, Harrell’s return (and another recruiting class) could set the stage for a nice 2014-2015 season for Rick Pitino and his club.

Tags: Louisville Cardinals Montrezl Harrell NBA Draft

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