Nearly a week after he initially asked for a release from his scholarship to Virginia Tech, Montrezl Harrell has had his wish granted.
Harrell was released Wednesday from his scholarship, according to Tech associate athletic director for internal affairs Tom Gabbard.
Harrell, a 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward from Tarboro, N.C. who played last season at Hargrave Military Academy, is now be free to pursue a college basketball future at another school. Gabbard added Harrell has no Tech-mandated restrictions regarding which schools he considers.
"We'd have loved to have kept him, but (Tech men's basketball coach James Johnson's) position is if the young man doesn't want to be here with us on his own part, then we won't keep him here," Gabbard said. "(Johnson) would like for him to be here, but you only get one chance in your life time to play college basketball. We released him yesterday."
The loss of Harrell, who would've been a freshman at Tech this coming fall, is a significant one for the Hokies. He was considered by most recruiting analysts to be one of the top 20 power forwards in the nation for the class of 2012.
After a strong spring of AAU basketball, Harrell may now be garnering interest from Kentucky and Louisville among others. Without Harrell, Johnson will have only eight scholarship players on his roster next season.
When Harrell signed a letter of intent last November with Tech, Seth Greenberg was Tech's coach. Greenberg was fired April 23, a month and a half after Tech finished 16-17 overall and 4-12 in the ACC in his ninth season as the Hokies' coach.
Johnson was hired a week after Greenberg's dismissal. Johnson tried to get Harrell to stay at Tech, but Harrell had other plans.
"To be honest with you, (an institution) gets 30 days (from the time the release request is filed) if you want them," Gabbard said. "Not only that, it specifically says if you deny it, then he can appeal it. One of the grounds for appeal is not a change of coach. That's not recognized as a legitimate appeal.
"Having said all that, and (Johnson) feels the same way and so does (Tech athletic director Jim) Weaver, you get one shot in a lifetime to do this. If you're not happy, we don't want you to come some place you're not happy or you don't think you're going to be happy. I think if (Harrell) came here, he'd be great, but he's made a decision and we're going to help him with it."
While Johnson was unable to retain Harrell, he was able to keep fellow '12 class signee Marshall Wood in the fold. Wood is a 6-8 forward from Rustburg High in Rustburg.
In addition to Harrell, Tech has had other player-related comings and goings in the week and a half.
On Wednesday, Tech welcomed transfer Adam Smith, a 6-1 guard who averaged 13.7 points per game last season as a freshman at UNC-Wilmington. He'll have to sit out next season under NCAA transfer rules, but he'll have three years of eligibility left beginning with the 2013-14 season.
The addition of Smith to came on the heels of forward Dorian Finney-Smith, a graduate of Norcom High in Portsmouth, telling Tech last week he plans to transfer. Finney-Smith 6.3 points and seven rebounds per game last season on his way to earning a spot on the All-ACC Freshman team.
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