Montrezl Harrell had a pair of double-doubles this week as Louisville defeated Indiana and UNC-Wilmington. The Tarboro, North Carolina native has been named NetScouts Basketball's National Player of the Week for games from December 8th through December 14th.
Harrell started the week with 21 points and 11 rebounds on 10-of-13 shooting in a 94-74 win over Indiana. The Cardinals then started sluggish in their Sunday contest against UNC-Wilmington, but Harrell posted 19 points and 17 rebounds on 9-of-17 shooting to lead Louisville in the win.
"Montrezl Harrell, who I think is the best player in the nation and I've said that for quite some time," Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said after the Indiana game. "He has a skill set like Kenneth Faried and (Dennis) Rodman in his prime, playing every position as if he hasn't eaten in a week, it's quite special."
The high praise has certainly been warranted early on, as Harrell is averaging 17.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-8 junior nearly left for the NBA last season, but returned to Louisville and looks like a first round pick. He's slightly undersized for the power forward position, but compensates with length and energy. Harrell competes inside and can overpower defenders. With Louisville off to a 9-0 start, he's been a key reason for the success.
Connecticut has struggled early in the season after winning the national championship, but had a breakout performance from Amida Brimah in a 106-85 win over Coppin State. The native of Accra, Ghana has been named NetScouts Basketball's International Player of the Week for games from December 8th through December 14th.
The 7-foot sophomore scored 40 points on a perfect 13-of-13 shooting to go with 12 rebounds and three blocks. He was 14-of-16 from the free throw line when he wasn't finishing one of his numerous lobs above the rim.
"Anytime you can go 13-13 from the field, 14 of 16 from the free throw line, and put up 40 points it makes for a tough night for us," Coppin State head coach Michael Grant said of Brimah's performance. "We had nobody that could match-up with him. Every time they threw it at the basket it was dunk after dunk after dunk. I thought that he made his own highlight tape."
Brimah played a smaller role on last year's squad but has shown major improvements as a sophomore. He's averaging 15.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game while shooting 69.8% from the floor. As an athletic and lengthy big man, Brimah has immense upside that could warrant a first round selection. The key to his draft stock will be sustaining his success. Connecticut may be just 4-3 on the year, but if Brimah can continue to improve, the Huskies may be able to turn the season around.
Carl Berman is Managing Partner of NetScouts Basketball.