Yesterday, Louisville bowed out of the NCAA Tournament in an Elite Eight overtime clash with Michigan State.
Today, the Cardinals’ two star players have decided to move on.
Guard Terry Rozier and forward Montrezl Harrell are going to the NBA Draft, according to coach Rick Pitino.
Pitino: (Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier) “are both leaving — 100 percent.”
— Jeff Greer (@jeffgreer_cj) March 30, 2015
Now, it’s worth mentioning that Pitino has done stuff like this before, saying off-the-cuff in a press scrum that someone is leaving when in reality the decision hasn’t yet been totally made. Plus, it seems like he was on kind of a roll in this one, saying that he assumes others will leave the program too. So, until Harrell and Rozier make the announcement and say they’re going, I wouldn’t consider this “100 percent,” as Pitino calls it.
Still, let’s operate under the assumption this is all true, and that Harrell and Rozier will be leaving. Both players are fairly flawed prospects, but both have undeniable strengths that will make them valued NBA prospects.
I have Harrell at No. 23 on my big board right now, which places him as the sixth among power forwards. The clear strengths for Harrell are the energy and rebounding that he can provide for a team in the late-teens/early-20s. Because of those things, I think he has a pretty good shot to play early on in the league. Coaches are going to be fans of his intensity level. However, Harrell is fairly short at approximately 6-foot-7 despite his 7-foot-3 wingspan. A key for him is if his jump-shooting can improve/develop to consistent levels where defenses have to guard him out to 18-feet. If that happens, he could become a solid starter in the NBA. If not, he’ll likely be a good, energetic forward.
Rozier is currently a bit lower at No. 37. That puts him within range of becoming a first-round pick once all players make draft decisions. The 6-foot-1 guard is an athletic, scoring combo guard in the NBA with a terrific first step that should immediately translate to the NBA. Also, he’s an energetic defender that legitimately makes effort on that end.
However, there are some pretty distinct issues with his stock. The largest problems are that he struggles with an inconsistent perimeter shot (32.5 from 3 this year), and an inability to finish around the rim. Rozier shot 42 percent around the rim in the halfcourt this season, according to Synergy, which placed him in the 21st percentile of all collegiate players. Now, he does have a good pull-up, mid-lane floater game that will help him a lot. But he will absolutely need to improve what happens when he gets all the way to the rim to be a viable NBA guard. If he can do that, I think his fate will be as a good 3rd, change of pace guard that can provide instant offense and solid defensive energy.
Overall, these are draft decisions that have been expected this season, and it’ll be interesting to see what their ultimate fate is in June.
UPDATE: Rozier is officially in the draft, per David Gardner of Sports Illustrated.
Just texted with Terry Rozier. He had no idea that Rick Pitino had said he would be declaring for the NBA draft, but he confirmed that he is
— David Gardner (@byDavidGardner) March 30, 2015