LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville power forward Montrezl Harrell announced via Twitter this afternoon that he will return to the Cardinals for his junior season.

The decision is somewhat of a surprise. Harrell had talked almost in the past tense about his U of L career late in the season, and mentioned several times wondering if he'd put the Cardinals uniform on again.

But after a process of looking at his draft position, and seeing who else in college basketball is entering the draft early, Harrell announced today that he's staying for another season.

"Been on my mind heavy but I love the feeling of being a Louisville cardinal an I will be wearing this for the next yr," Harrell Tweeted.

He quickly received congratulations from former teammate Peyton Siva, via Twitter. U of L coach Rick Pitino quickly hailed the news, and in a statement from the school said he welcomes his team captain back.

"This is obviously great news," Pitino said.  "Like (former U of L/current Minnesota Timberwolves center) Gorgui Dieng, he will benefit tremendously from playing his junior season.  We hope, like Russ Smith, that he can become a first-team All-America selection.  Montrezl is a Louisville man and we're all very excited to have Montrezl as a co-captain with Wayne Blackshear."

Of Harrell's decision, Pitino said two weeks ago, "He's improved so much. The NBA is, everything with them is about measurements. And the one thing you keep hearing about is length, length with guards, length with everyone. It's almost become like football, like a combine. It's gotten that detailed. It's money ball. It's all those details. Certainly, his measurements are very good in all those areas. To be honest with you, we're going to be very good with or without him. Now we'll be much better with him, because we'll be older and more experienced."

His return changes the outlook for the Cardinals next season, their first in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

They were projected as a borderline preseason Top 25 team without him, but with him could edge toward the top 10.

Harrell became one of the dominant big men in college basketball over the final two months of last season, and his presence next season should help a large contingent of post players in what has been ranked the nation's No. 4 recruiting class by ESPN.com.

Harrell's announcement came just hours after Pitino put out a statement saying he's made Wayne Blackshear a captain for next season.


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