Thursday, June 28, 2012

Harkless Drafted By 76ers

Maurice Harkless meets David Stern after NBA commissioner announces him as 15th overall selection in tonight's NBA Draft, taken by Philadelphia 76ers.  (Photo courtesy of Comcast SportsNet Philly)

The wait is over.

St. John's University finally had a player selected in the NBA Draft again after an eleven-year drought, as forward Maurice Harkless was taken fifteenth overall by the Philadelphia 76ers tonight.  The Queens product joins a young and rising Sixer team led by Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala in the backcourt, with fellow wing Evan Turner developing into a blossoming star in his own right after just two seasons.  Harkless said of his new team that they are "really young and they play really fast.  I think that's the type of game that I like to play, and I think I'll fit in well."

"Maurice is the most well-rounded and complete player I've coached relative to this juncture or stage of a playing career," said St. John's coach Steve Lavin.  "His intellect, size, skill set and athleticism set him apart from others."

The 6-8 Harkless, who worked out for Philadelphia among the many teams that showed an interest in him, is a developing talent with an expanding perimeter game that will endear him to the blue-collar fan base in the City of Brotherly Love right away.  He is every bit as good going inside and attacking the basket offensively as he is blocking shots and causing matchup problems on the defensive end, and in an Atlantic division that is still the Boston Celtics' to lose, this pick has helped the 76ers close the gap.

Harkless is the 60th Red Storm player to be drafted, and fourteenth for head coach Steve Lavin, who can now say that he produced a professional player on the corner of Union and Utopia.  The swingman capped off a sensational freshman season at St. John's by winning the Big East's Rookie of the Year award, becoming just the second Red Storm player to do so.  The 19-year-old also gets to remain relatively close to his New York home with the selection, something he is very ecstatic about.

"That's really cool to me because I've pretty much been close to home my whole life," said Harkless of the close proximity between New York and Philadelphia.  "Having my family close and being able to come out to games is definitely a great feeling."

Harkless should also have his St. John's family out in full force, as they have just as much to celebrate; for tonight, a program that was once great has again been resurrected.

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