USA U18 Training Camp Part Of An Eventful Week For Montrezl Harrell

June 8, 2012 ē Colorado Springs, Colo.

Every other class of 2012 graduate participating in the USA Basketball Menís U18 National Team training camp had announced where they would be attending college well before they arrived in Colorado Springs. Montrezl Harrell (Hargrave Military Academy/Tarboro, N.C.), however, made known his decision to play for the University of Louisville on Monday, one day before he checked in at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

Harrell visited the Louisville campus this past weekend and came away impressed enough to commit to the Cardinals. On Tuesday, Louisville officially announced that Harrell had signed a financial aid agreement to continue his basketball career under the tutelage of U-of-L head coach Rick Pitino.

The 6-7 forward initially signed a National Letter of Intent with Virginia Tech last November, but reopened his recruitment following a coaching change with the Hokies.

Harrell led Hargrave to a 38-1 record and a national prep runner-up finish this past season as he averaged 25.2 points, 13.6 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game as a senior. In a 122-119 overtime victory against Fishburne Military School, Harrell totaled 51 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks in addition to 18 dunks. The explosive athlete once shattered a backboard in practice during his senior year.

USABasketball.com sat down with Harrell to get caught up on his momentous week:

How did it feel to be named as a finalist?
Itís a great honor to be a finalist for this team because there were 23 great guys here. Any 14 of those could have been chosen to still be able to compete here to actually make the team. I was chosen to be one of the 14 finalists and that is a great honor to me, but itís still not over yet because, like coach said, they have to cut two more people to get it down to 12 so Iím still out here working hard and competing to make sure I make the team.

What are you trying to show the coaching staff in these practice sessions?
Iím just trying to show that I play hard every possession and I love to compete. I love to win, and I want to do whatever it takes to help my team win. Thatís really what Iím trying to show; show that Iím a high energy guy and just love to compete.

What would it mean to you to be able to make the team, represent your country and compete for a gold medal?
It would mean a lot. It would be a great honor for me to make the team and compete for my country because that shows I came out here and competed with some of the top 18-year-old guys, and it would be a great honor.

Itís been an eventful week for you; you visited Louisville this past weekend, committed on Monday and then flew right out to Colorado Springs. What has this week been like for you?
The week has been fun, really. When I went down to Louisville, I saw the facility, academics and the whole place. I saw how the campus was, I hung out with the team and I talked to Coach Pitino and (assistant) coach (Kevin) Keatts. When I went down there it felt like when I first committed to Virginia Tech; it felt like a home for me. By committing, I feel like I made a great decision and canít wait to get out there and start working. Then when I came out here (to Colorado Springs) I just had the mindset to come out and give it my all and leave it all on the court.

After signing last November, you probably thought the recruiting process was over; what was it like to open things back up after Virginia Techís coaching change?
It was alright because I had already been through the recruiting process one time. My first time through my recruiting process was crazy talking to different coaches and different things like that. Opening it up a second time, it was still crazy but it wasnít as stressful as it was the first time.

Did you approach the recruitment process differently the second time around after already having been through it once?
I wouldnít say I had a different approach to it. My approach was kind of the same, but it was way less stressful than it was the first time. The first time it was stressful with calls after calls and talking to different people and having to be here and there, back-to-back. It was just crazy.

Is there a player, past or present, that you try to mold your game after or that you would compare yourself to?
I would probably say J.J. Hickson or Amaríe Stoudemire; just how hard those guys compete and how they love to win.

You had 18 dunks in a single game last season; how does that happen?
I just stayed around the rim and everything that bounced off the rim, I was either putting it back in or I would catch, gather myself and dunk. I was running the floor a lot, so I caught a few lobs and some of them I got in transition and just went up.