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Kentucky fan reaction: Josh Harrellson has come a long way
The NBA draft was held on June 23rd. Josh Harrellson was chosen 45th overall by the Charlotte Hornets.
The big man Josh Harrellson (nicknamed Jorts) had quite a senior season for Kentucky. He averaged 8.7 rebounds and 7.6 points in 28.5 minutes for the season. This did not seem possible at the end his junior season.
Jorts has been criticized quite a bit since he transferred from Southwestern Illinois Community College where he averaged 15 points and eight rebounds per game. Kentucky wasn't the only team interested in him. Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, St. Louis and Ohio State were all said to be interested. He was known as a big guy who would play hard but needed to work on his strength and footwork. Coach Billy Gillispie brought him in to bang in the middle and take pressure off Patrick Patterson(notes).
In the 2008-2009 season, Jorts only missed one game and averaged a little over nine minutes, 3.7 points, and 2.6 rebounds per game. The highlight of the season was when he had a double-double against West Virginia on November 30th, 2009 in 25 minutes. He and Gillispie didn't always see eye to eye, though. Gillispie locked Josh Harrellson in a bathroom during halftime of a game. Gillispie also made Harrellson ride back to Lexington in the equipment truck (Source: Kentucky.com). Say what you will about Gillispie but he had to have seen something in Harrellson in bringing him in.
Luck and hard work
After the Gillispie experiment was over, Coach Cal took over. He wasn't a big fan of Jorts and it showed in his playing time. Jorts only played in 19 games averaging 4.3 minutes per game.
Then luck and hard work kicked in. Daniel Orton(notes) went to the NBA after one season. Enes Kanter was never eligible to suit up for the Big Blue. If Orton and Kanter were on the team, Harrellson would probably have spent his senior season the same way as his junior season. Harrellson is an example of how a strong work ethic and determination with a little bit of good fortune can take you far. He made an amazing transformation from two seasons ago to last season. Harrellson finished his senior season with the 17th most rebounds (329) in Kentucky's history (Source: BigBlueHistory.net).
Back to now, the Knicks acquired Harrellson from the Hornets in a draft-day trade, sending between $700,000 and $750,000 back to New Orleans (Source: ESPN.com). Harrellson isn't going to be the most physical center on the floor in the NBA. He is 6'10" and his frame is not exactly chiseled. However, he is a tough rebounder, a decent passer, and may have a nice career in the NBA.
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