Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Harkless To Declare After Just One Year

After capturing Big East Rookie of the Year honors, Moe Harkless is ready to move onto professional ranks, where he stands to be first St. John's player since 2001 to be selected in NBA draft. (Photo courtesy of Newsday)

In the grand scheme of things, he will have left before most people could truly appreciate him; but for those who got to see Moe Harkless up close and personal, nearly all would agree that his talents made his decision to turn pro easier.

The freshman forward; who this past season became just the second Red Storm player to win Big East Rookie of the Year honors, announced his intention to forgo his final three years of eligibility in a press conference yesterday afternoon at Madison Square Garden that was also attended by head coach Steve Lavin. Harkless is projected as a mid-first round pick after a rookie campaign highlighted by two games in which he scored 30 or more points, as well as a dominant showing against a physical Pittsburgh team in the Big East tournament two weeks ago.

"It has been my lifelong dream to play in the NBA," said the Queens native; who played just a three-pointer away from St. John's while at Forest Hills High School, "and I'm excited to have the opportunity to make the jump. The future is never guaranteed, and I feel like the opportunity and chance to pursue that dream is available right now."

Harkless also intimated that he is not merely testing the waters as other prospects have done in the past, and intends to hire an agent in the coming weeks. Should he indeed be one of the sixty names called at the Prudential Center on June 28th, he will become the first St. John's player selected since Omar Cook; ironically also a one-year player in Queens himself, was taken in the second round in 2001. For Harkless' coach, the forward represents the latest in a long line of professional talents he has turned out over his career, but first since coming to New York after spending seven years with ESPN following his dismissal from UCLA in 2003.

"He will be an example that shows that if you come to St. John's, great things can happen," said Steve Lavin. "Our program is so proud of what Moe accomplished this year, and we're genuinely happy for him as he moves on and realizes his dream."

Harkless' spot in the lineup next season will likely be taken by incoming recruit Jakarr Sampson, who recommitted to the Red Storm last week after being declared ineligible upon signing with St. John's last year. The Red Storm also return each of their other seven scholarship players, with Lavin expected to add at least one or two more to his recruiting class in the weeks to come.

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