I’ve watched a lot of University of Kentucky basketball, due in part to my just watching a lot of every-team basketball in general and in larger part to having some friends who are Kentucky alums and serious fans. (Not to name drop but, yes haters, I build with Lukasz Obrzut) Which means that I’ve seen a lot of senior center Josh Harrellson over the years, usually in frustrating two- or three-minute stretches punctuated by the profanities of my dear friends. Recruited as an inside-outside big man by Billy Gillispie, Harrellson spent his first three seasons at Kentucky just not playing very well. He was never as bad as Eloy Vargas — the ultra-baffled Kentucky backup center who plays like he’s wearing roller skates, and whom people I respect describe as the worst player in Division I — but Harrellson was frustratingly vague, drifty, and contact-averse; not, in short, the sort of player that gets minutes on a good team, and clearly not a favorite of John Calipari. And then, this year, he suddenly became a very solid frontcourt contributor.
During the tournament, Harrellson (above) is scoring nearly 16 points per game and averaging just under 10 rebounds per, and he played very well against the very good Jared Sullinger in Kentucky’s upset of Ohio State. While he’s still limited in a lot of ways, Harrellson has belatedly emerged as a Jon Brockman-ian garbage man with a good attitude and more skills than anyone would expect. All of that, plus the fact that everyone else is writing about Brandon Knight’s dagger-tossing brilliance, probably explains why Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel wrote a nice story about the likable Harrellson’s late-onset competence. In a classic example of burying the lede, though, Wetzel waits a few hundred words to get to the thing that is truly shocking about Harrellson — his unabashed fondness for, and impressive collection of, one of America’s more controversial male clothing items.
Before this run, Harrellson claim to fame was earning the nickname “Jorts” in honor of his devotion to the rural fashion of jeans shorts. He said he owns 10 pairs.
“A lot of people think of jeans shorts like I cut my jeans off and made them shorts,” Harrellson explained. “I actually buy them. [I wear them every day] when it gets to jorts season.”
“When it’s spring time,” he said. “It’s a fashion statement. They’re easy to put on. I can wear my basketball shorts underneath them. You can wear them out to the courts. They’re easy to take off, and then slip back on and wear home.”
He claims he has made jorts so popular in Lexington he even got teammate Darius Miller to start wearing them.
“That’s a lie,” Miller countered, shaking his head and playfully wondering what the heck is wrong with his teammate.