Kentucky senior center, Josh Harrellson, may have been a forgettable name to start the season for the Wildcats, but the big man who played all of 28 minutes last season has made the most of his opportunities this season. Harrellson has put up double-digits points in all four games of the NCAA tournament along with an unforgettable performance matched up against Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger on Friday night. Harrellson notched 17 points and and 10 rebounds along with the hardest ball ever thrown off a player’s chest. Harrellson has easily become a fan favorite in Kentucky featuring the nickname of “Jorts” that was given to him by Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio. Wildcats fans have come to love Harrellson, embracing the “Jorts” nickname.
Harrellson added 12 points and 8 rebounds in Sunday’s win over North Carolina as Kentucky reached their first final four since 1998. It’s been quite an unusual NCAA tournament this season with VCU, Butler and UConn making it to the Final Four. Josh Harrellson joined ESPN Radio with Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo to discuss his stellar game against Jared Sullingerin their Sweet Sixteen matchup, if he could have believed earlier in the season that the Wildcats season would have gone this way for the team and himself, does he think being the guy who spent some time sitting around motivated him into being the player who relished every minute on the court, how would he describe playing for such a passionate fan base in Kentucky, and an explanation as to why his nickname is ‘Jorts’ including a rumor that claimed he tried throwing his ‘Jorts’ to a crowd of Kentucky fans on Sunday night after the win over UNC at the airport. It’s been a remarkable run in the tournament. As I mentioned double figures in all four games. The [Jared] Sullinger
game you went for 17-10. You seemed to have an attitude from the jump that you were going to take it to him. Was that your thought process?
“Uh yeah. I knew he [Jared Sullinger] was the best big man that I would be facing. I just wanted to come out and just give it all I had, just try to prove to everybody that you know the weakest link on our team does not lean aside and we can hold our own down there. Just coming out and playing against him and doing what I did it boosts my confidence tremendously and I’m looking forward to the rest of the tournament.”
If I would have told you before the season given you were behind most of the competition your playing against in terms of NBA status that this is how your year would have turned out what would you have thought?
“I would have been in disbelief. I would have never believed it, but it’s great what god does and all the situations he’s put me in. You know I’m thankful for it. I’ve made the most of everything he has given me. I’m still looking forward to finishing out this tournament right.”
Do you think sitting around for awhile has motivated you to be this guy who relishes every minute you’re out on the court?
“Definitely. My first two years here I didn’t play much. Now I’m getting an opportunity to play. I just want to take the opportunity in my hands and just do whatever I can with it. I guess take full grasp of it and not leave anything behind in my senior season and I’m definitely trying to end it out right and do everything I can for my teammates.”
Your fan base is the most passionate college hoops base in the country. There is nothing like it. How would you describe what it is like to be a Kentucky player and becoming a legendary figure on this team?
“You know it’s tremendous. Like you said our fan base for what they do for us, everywhere we go, our fans usually outnumber the others fans no matter where it is. I mean they went to Maui this year. We had 3,000 fans in Maui. They took over. It’s crazy is what they do. We love the support. We love that they support us so much and when we landed last night in the airport it was 11:30 p.m., almost around 11:30 [p.m.], there’s a couple thousand people around the gates just cheering for us. You know welcoming us back home and we come back home to where we live and there’s a couple of hundred, 500 people, outside waiting for us to arrive there. Just the things they do for us, how much they follow us just motivates to want to play harder for them.”
We got an email saying you tried to throw your pair of jean shorts out to a bunch of fans at the Wildcat lounge? This “Jorts” thing has taken on a life of its own I mean there’s some truth to that right? It goes back to your official visit back in the day?
“Yeah Matt Jones of KSR, Kentucky Sports Radio, he gave me the nickname. Ever since the first day I heard it I’ve welcome it with open arms and I love it. It gives me an identity. I couldn’t be happier with the nickname. I still wear jean shorts to this day. I did last night you know they were all chanting ‘Jorts’ so I was going to go out there and throw them a pair, but the police officer was right. He said ‘You probably shouldn’t do that because it might start a fight.’ I found a little kid out there, I autographed it and gave it to them. Hopefully they grow up with the memory of that.”