“The end of the season seems like it’s been a whole year ago,” Harrellson said. “It feels like a long time ago.”
That’s because he’s been going full speed for the draft after taking a few weeks off once the UK season ended to clear his head. Harrellson’s had nine workouts — including one Tuesday morning with the Memphis Grizzlies, after which I talked to him — and will do a final one with Boston Wednesday. Harrellson said he has worked out primarily for teams that need big men, naming Detriot and Atlanta as two other teams he visited.
“Me, personally, I feel accomplished after all my workouts,” Harrellson said. “A couple coaches have told me I will get picked up in the late first or second round. … But there’s no promises. There’s a lot of players out there for 60 spots.”
The workouts give players a chance to expand on the skills they showed throughout the year. For Harrellson, one talent that often went unused throughout the year has impressed teams: shooting.
“One coach just told me that’s icing on the cake for them,” Harrellson said. “I didn’t get the chance to show off my shooting all that much this year. A lot of teams are infatuated with that.”
Workouts are supplemented with game tapes — which show teams things like “competitiveness, playing 40 minutes, and taking charges” — and personal interviews that allow teams to get to know the players.
Harrellson said the tryout process, with all the flying and traveling and pressures of being a fringe draft choice, is wearing on him. He said he kept thinking of how far he came this year at UK and how he just wants one opportunity to get in the league.
Come Thursday night, Harrellson’s family and friends are having a party for him in his hometown of St. Charles, Mo. He said the group will be trying to both watch the draft but also not get caught up waiting for his name to be called.
“As the first round progresses, we’ll be watching it a little closer,” Harrellson said. “But we won’t be trying to focus on the draft too much. We’ll have some fun to take our minds off it and not be uptight.”
Harrellson’s plan if he gets drafted in the first round is easy: show up in October ready to go. If he gets drafted in the second round, things get less certain. Because second-rounders don’t get guaranteed contracts, and the possibility of a team drafting him without truly needing him exists, he will be showing up but will also be thinking about Europe as a contingent plan.
And between Thursday night and October?
“My first option is to stay and work at Kentucky,” Harrellson said. “I want to get a hold of Coach Cal and be around. I’m sure he’d love me banging with the freshmen and helping them improve.”