Connect with us

55 Josh Harrellson

josh harrellson
Josh Harrellson
Hometown (Last School)
St. Charles, MO
2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11
February 12, 1989

Josh Harrellson was born Josh Douglas Harrellson in St. Charles, Missouri on February 12, 1989, to Doug and Karen Harrellson.

Harrellson, standing 6′ 10″, played center for the Kentucky Wildcats from 2008 to 2011.  Due to the ineligibility of star recruit Enes Kanter, Harrellson received significantly more playing time his senior year, during which he averaged 6.4 points per game and led the Southeastern Conference in rebounding with 8.8 per game. In the 2011 NCAA tournament, he was named to the All-East Region Team.

While at Kentucky he earned the nickname “Jorts” (slang for jean shorts) because he was often seen wearing them.

Harrellson had never played organized basketball prior to 2003, his freshman year at St. Charles High School.  St. Charles boys’ basketball coach Gary Wacker noticed Harrellson, who stood six feet, four inches tall as a high school freshman when he came to the football coach’s office to ask about tryouts.  When Harrellson showed up too late for football tryouts, Wacker encouraged him to try playing basketball.  Wacker later recalled that, when he first started practice, he could not dribble or make a left-handed layup, and Harrellson himself conceded that he was “pretty much the worst player on the team.”  Before the end of his first season, however, he was playing on the junior varsity team, and by his sophomore year, he was playing with the varsity team.  Harrellson had a difficult home life and eventually moved in with his AAU basketball coach.  By his junior year, he had grown to 6 feet, 8 inches tall; he averaged 18.1 points and 11 rebounds for the season and was named a first-team All-State player.  After taking only one recruiting visit, he signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Western Illinois Leathernecks prior to his senior year.  He averaged 18.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.6 blocked shots, 1.5 assists, and 1.3 steals during his final season of high school basketball while leading St. Charles to the Class 4 state semi-finals.  He was named second-team All-Metro by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and was again named first-team All-State.  He finished his high school career with 1,325 points and 794 rebounds.  After the season, he participated in summer workouts with University of Florida-bound Alex Tyus from nearby Hazelwood Central High School; during these workouts, he became convinced he could play basketball for a higher-profile university.

Before enrolling at Western Illinois, Harrellson asked to be released from his letter of intent, citing rumors that head coach Derek Thomas was about to be fired and his desire to play for a higher-profile school.  Western Illinois refused to grant the request.  Instead of playing for Western Illinois, Harrellson decided to matriculate to a junior college.  His parents divorced following his high school graduation, and he chose Southwestern Illinois College because it was close to home.  Harrellson joined future Alabama forward Chris Hines and future Minnesota guard Devron Bostick on the SWIC basketball team, and during the 2007–08 season, he averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds.  His team compiled a 28–5 record, won the Great Rivers Athletic Conference, and advanced to the National Junior College Athletic Association regional championship game.  Harrellson was named first-team all-conference and all-region.

In March 2008, Western Illinois fired coach Derek Thomas, and Harrellson was released from his Letter of Intent in April of that year.  Harrellson first expressed interest in transferring to the University of Missouri, but the school had no basketball scholarships available.  He considered scholarship offers from Iowa, Iowa State, St. Louis, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky.  His final decision was between St. Louis and Kentucky.  Despite his desire to stay close to home, in part because of his parent’s recent divorce, Harrellson chose Kentucky because of the chance for better exposure, which would lead to an opportunity to play professional basketball.

In his first year at Kentucky, Harrellson played in 34 games, starting in 2.  He was named to the Las Vegas Invitational All-Tournament Team; he posted his first career double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) in the tournament’s championship game against the West Virginia Mountaineers.  The game was one of only six all season in which Harrellson tallied at least 10 points.  At halftime of a game against the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville on February 17, 2009, Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie ordered Harrellson to listen to the game plan from a bathroom stall.  After the game, Gillispie made Harrellson ride back to Lexington in the equipment van instead of on the bus with his teammates.

Kentucky fired Gillispie at the end of the season, replacing him with John Calipari. Calipari quickly assembled a highly touted recruiting class that required more scholarships than Kentucky had to offer and held workouts to determine which of the players then on scholarship would best fit into his system.  Sophomore A. J. Stewart and freshman Donald Williams decided to transfer, while senior Jared Carter decided not to apply for a medical redshirt.  Harrellson impressed Calipari and remained on the team.  However, playing behind Patrick Patterson, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton, and Perry Stevenson, Harrellson played a total of 88 minutes over 22 games during the season.  He averaged 1.3 points and 1.2 rebounds per game, and his season high in points was five.

Following the 2009–2010 season, Harrellson and teammate Jon Hood played nine games in China as part of an exhibition team assembled by Campbellsville, Kentucky-based Sports Reach.  Playing against teams from China and Russia, Harrellson averaged 13.1 points and 9.2 rebounds.  He said that the experience boosted his confidence after receiving limited playing time during the previous season.

Harrellson grabbed 26 rebounds in the Blue-White scrimmage prior to the 2010–11 basketball season.  When asked about the performance, Calipari remarked, “Either we are the worst offensive rebounding team in America or he’s gotten better.” Harrellson took exception to Calipari’s lack of praise and tweeted, “Just amazing to me I can’t get a good job or way to go. Yes he has been working hard this off season … It is just amazing to me but I look past it and keep trucking!”  Calipari then ordered Harrellson to shut down his Twitter account and to do extra conditioning drills as punishment.  Harrellson made these drills part of his regular workout and credited them for improving his physical condition.

Harrellson was pressed into playing heavy minutes by the NCAA’s decision to rule teammate Enes Kanter ineligible for accepting excessive benefits from a professional team in Turkey.  Harrellson started every game for the Wildcats during the 2010–11 season.  He achieved career highs in points (24) and rebounds (14) against in-state rival Louisville on December 31, 2010, but regressed once conference play began.  He nevertheless led the conference in rebounding with 8.8 per game and scored 6.4 points per game during the regular season.  During the 2011 Southeastern Conference tournament, he averaged 10.3 points per game and was named to the All-Tournament team.  

In the 2011 NCAA tournament, Harrellson averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds, including a 17-point, 10-rebound, 3-block performance against Ohio State All-American Jared Sullinger in the third round.  He followed up with 12 points, 8 rebounds, and a career-high 4 assists in the regional finals against Tyler Zeller of the North Carolina Tar Heels, helping the Wildcats reach the Final Four.  After the game, Harrellson was named to the All-East Region Tournament team along with teammates DeAndre Liggins and Brandon Knight, who was named the region’s most outstanding player.  In his final game as a Wildcat, a one-point loss to the Connecticut Huskies in the national semi-finals, Harrellson managed only 6 points and 4 rebounds.

He was selected by the New Orleans Hornets as the 45th pick in the 2011 NBA draft, but was traded to the New York Knicks. 

As of October 2023, Harrellson was still enjoying a professional career in Japan where he averaged a double-double.

College Statistics:



Career Totals


More in