Blog Entry

Josh Harrellson's career day sparks Kentucky

Posted on: December 31, 2010 6:30 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2010 9:24 pm

Posted by Matt Jones
College basketball rivalry games are often defined by unlikely heroes who step up and deliver performances that immortalize them as legends of the program for years to come. And when it comes to unlikely heroes, very few have been more surprising than Josh Harrellson , who ensured he will never want for a free meal in Kentucky for the rest of his life after spurring UK to a 78-63 win over Louisville at the Yum! Center.  The man that Kentuckians call "Jorts" (due to an infamous picture taken of him wearing jean shorts on his recruiting visit) scored 23 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in an effort that even he labeled after the game as "shocking."  Shooting 10-for-12 from the field, Harrellson scored by doing what unlikely heroes do, being in the right place at the right time and taking advantage of opportunities -- in this case, openings caused by double-teams on star Terrence Jones. His career night included an unlikely three-point bomb that led Jorts to hold three fingers up in the air and John Calipari to shake his head in disbelief.
Had one been guessing two months ago, the thought of Harrellson no longer being on the team would have seemed more likely than him being the key factor in a victory over an arch-rival.  After a solid performance in an exhibition game, Harrellson went on Twitter and complained that coach John Calipari did not give him credit for his game, instead focusing on Josh's mistakes in a post-game press conference.  Calipari responded to the criticism by publicly scolding Harrellson on Twitter and also instituting a series of early-morning workouts as punishment.  The coach required Harrellson to do six a.m. workouts every day and suggested that if Harrellson balked, his career with the Wildcats could be over.

What followed was a transformation of Harrellson's body and game so shocking that he hardly looks like the same person.  Whereas he was once a player that was big and bulky, his dramatic weight loss and newly-found muscles could potentially lead to an exercise tape called "Body by Jorts."  Whereas he was once a slow, lumbering big man best known for having a decent outside touch, now he is a figure that can be relied upon to control the glass and give UK a presence in the paint that seemed to be a lost cause going into the year.  For his part, Harrellson calls the Twitter fiasco, the "best thing that ever happened to me", as it changed his view of his role on the team from jokester who felt fortunate to be on the team, to a true contributor who can help create a victory.

Harrellson's contribution was by no means the only reason for Kentucky's victory.  In fact, the entire game showcased just how large a gap currently exists between the Cats and its arch rival .  Louisville looked tentative, slower and most significantly, substantially less-talented than their Kentucky opponents and at no point seemed likely to win the game.  Kentucky's Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones not only played better than Louisville, they looked to be on a different level than their Louisville counterparts.  Kentucky stopped Louisville's transition game by controlling tempo from the outset, thereby negating the Cards' best chance to pull off an upset and ensuring that the team with the best talent would win.  If Friday showed us anything, it is clear that team resides in Lexington.

All of which makes the performance by Harrellson that much more impressive.  Over the last two seasons, he has played on a team with eight players that either were, or are likely to be, first round NBA Draft picks.  He has consistently been overlooked on nearly every level, including being left off the team's pre-season poster given out to fans in order to make room for yet another highly touted Calipari draft class.  He was the classic afterthought, only a factor in this season because UK could not get Enes Kanter eligible or find another big man with more talent.  Yet that guy, the one that no one thought would ever make a difference, that guy had a career day against his team's biggest rival and made himself a name that will always be associated with a Card thrashing.

That is the stuff from which legends are made.  

Since: Dec 30, 2010
Posted on: January 2, 2011 11:24 am

Josh Harrellson's career day sparks Kentucky

Way to take it to little brother Jorts!  Go Cayts!

Since: Apr 22, 2010
Posted on: January 1, 2011 10:20 pm

Josh Harrellson's career day sparks Kentucky

One of the best ways to start the New Year with a win over Mr. Pitino and his Cardinals in the KFC bucket.  The only thing is I hope the people who watched it on TV Do Not think that UK fans wear KFC buckets on their heads away from that arena.  I just couldn't believe that those UL fans had those stupid buckets on their heads.  The only thing worse would have been if they had been holding a chicken leg............Thanks Josh for a GREAT game 

Since: Oct 17, 2006
Posted on: January 1, 2011 1:13 pm

Josh Harrellson's career day sparks Kentucky

Dont forget Cedrick Jenkins and Richard "the Master Blaster" Madison.

Since: Aug 5, 2009
Posted on: January 1, 2011 9:22 am

Josh Harrellson's career day sparks Kentucky

Great article Matt!  Jorts really did an awesome job today.  Congrats to him he deserves it!

Since: Dec 28, 2010
Posted on: January 1, 2011 8:43 am

Josh Harrellson's career day sparks Kentucky

Way to go JORTS!!!
Any news on Paterson and Lucas?

Since: Feb 25, 2010
Posted on: January 1, 2011 1:45 am

Josh Harrellson's career day sparks Kentucky

If a window is left open, chances are a UL player will try to slip in and steal a TV

Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: January 1, 2011 1:25 am

Josh Harrellson's career day sparks Kentucky

Those of you fortunate enough to have met Josh personally know that he is a great young man and outstanding representative of Kentucky.  Pitino certainly did not envision that Terrence Jones would handle the double-teaming with such excellent assists, nor that Harrellson would burn his Cards with such efficiency.  What is really exciting is that now Josh knows he can deliver this kind of performance against a ranked team on the road - that should bode well for conference play and hopefully a deep run in the Big Dance.

Since: Oct 5, 2008
Posted on: December 31, 2010 10:33 pm

Josh Harrellson's career day sparks Kentucky

Gus Johnson,"My name is Josh Harrellson and ....I GET BUCKETS!

Since: Nov 7, 2006
Posted on: December 31, 2010 10:07 pm

Josh Harrellson's career day sparks Kentucky

"FEAR THE JORTS!" should be new slogan for t-shirts. That is classic!
What a game the big guy had. Very good win in a hostile environment.

Since: Dec 31, 2010
Posted on: December 31, 2010 10:06 pm

Josh Harrellson's career day sparks Kentucky

I knew he could do it!

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