March 19, 2012
VIDEO: News Conference Highlights from Harkless' NBA Announcement
VIDEO FEATURE: Moe Goes Pro! STJ-TV Coverage
VIDEO: Moe Harkless and Head Coach Steve Lavin on SNY
VIDEO: ESPN SportsCenter Coverage of Harkless' NBA Announcement
NBA Announcement Photo Gallery
News Conference Quotes
NEW YORK - St. John's guard/forward Moe Harkless, the 2011-12 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and the only league freshman to be named an All-BIG EAST honorable mention selection, announced Monday that he intends to forego the remainder of his collegiate career and enter the 2012 NBA Draft.
"Moe has chosen to take the next step in his career to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA. Moe and his mother Rosa know that we are thankful for his contributions to the St. John's basketball program and respect his wishes to pursue a professional playing career," said St. John's head coach Steve Lavin. "Moe and I have had a number of productive conversations over the past two weeks. Naturally the discussions covered the pros and cons of leaving St. John's to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA. Because Moe is a product of New York City it is only fitting that he announces his decision at legendary Madison Square Garden, the Johnnies home court, with his family in attendance. We are proud of what Moe and our young group accomplished this season - Moe is an example that St. John's is once again a destination for top-caliber talent and we look forward to following his progress."
Harkless is expected to become the first basketball player of The Lavin Era at St. John's to be selected in the NBA Draft. From 1997-2006, a total of 13 players signed or coached by Lavin became NBA Draft choices. Baron Davis, a 1999 lottery pick, is a two-time NBA All-Star playing in his 13th season in 2011-12. Earl Watson, a 2001 draft choice, is now a 12-year NBA veteran. Trevor Ariza was Lavin's last signee during Lavin's UCLA tenure.
"It has been my lifelong dream to play in the NBA, and I am excited to have that opportunity to make the jump," said Harkless. "I am grateful to my teammates and coaches at St. John's. I would like to thank Coach Lavin, our staff and my teammates for being there for me throughout the whole season. We have been through a lot together and I know everyone is excited for me. I know if we all keep working hard, a lot of us will be playing together in the league someday. I believe this is only the beginning for Coach Lavin and his successful legacy at St. John's."
Harkless, who is projected to be selected in the draft's first round, and as high as the No. 13 pick according to draft websites, looks to become the 60th all-time St. John's men's basketball player selected in the NBA Draft - and the first since 2001. Harkless has not hired an agent at this time but is in the process. The early-entry deadline is April 29 and the 2012 NBA Draft will be held on June 28 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
"We would like to thank Moe for his contributions to our men's basketball program," said St. John's Director of Athletics Chris Monasch. "Moe will always be a member of the St. John's Family, and we welcome Moe to come back anytime to continue to pursue his degree and reap the benefits of St. John's education."
Harkless is only St. John's second-ever BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, and was the first since David Russell took home the honor in 1979-80 after Russell averaged 10.6 points and 5.3 rebounds as a freshman. Harkless averaged 15.5 points per contest in 2011-12, ranking him second in the conference and sixth in the nation among rookies. His 15.5 points per game also ranked him fourth among St. John's all-time freshman scoring leaders. Harkless finished the season tied as the conference's top rebounding frosh with 8.6 boards per game, good for second in the nation. The freshman's scoring average ranked him 11th among all BIG EAST players, while his rebound average was tied for sixth, his 1.4 blocks per game ranked 10th and his 1.6 steals were tied for 13th. Harkless' 32 starts in 32 games led the Red Storm and his 36.1 minutes per contest, which also led the team, ranked in the top three among rookies and was tied for 10th overall in the BIG EAST Conference.
The rookie's 11 double-doubles this regular season, including six in BIG EAST action, ranked tied for third among conference players this season and tied for 10th among all active BIG EAST players in a career. Harkless grabbed 276 rebounds, the most for a freshman since St. John's all-time most prolific rebounder George Johnson notched a freshman record with 285 boards in 1974-75. The swingman poured in 497 points during the season, which is fifth all-time on the freshman scoring list behind teammate and new rookie scoring leader D'Angelo Harrison (544), who averaged 17.0 ppg during the season to lead all BIG EAST freshmen and rank third nationally.
In St. John's win over Providence on Dec. 27, 2011, Harkless set a new scoring record for a BIG EAST debut with 32 points, surpassing prior marks set by Georgetown's Allen Iverson and Notre Dame's Troy Murphy. He also had 30 points and 13 rebounds in St. John's loss at Duke on Jan. 28. In the March 6 BIG EAST Championship first round loss to Pitt, Harkless' 25 points were the most for a Red Storm player in the event since Marcus Hatten scored 25 in the 2002 BIG EAST quarterfinals.
St. John's heralded freshman class was honored many times in 2011-12. On March 4, Harkless was named an All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention, and both he and Harrison were named to the BIG EAST All-Rookie team. The two BIG EAST All-Rookie citations mark the first time a pair of St. John's freshmen were honored since Zendon Hamilton and Felipe Lopez were named to the BIG EAST All-Rookie team in 1995. St. John's only other rookie tandem to be honored in this way was Mark Jackson and Willie Glass in 1984. On Jan. 30 and Feb. 27, Harkless received BIG EAST Rookie of the Week honors after being tabbed to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for the week of Dec. 26-Jan. 1. On Jan. 9, Harrison became the first St. John's player to be named BIG EAST Rookie of the Week since guard/forward Dexter Gray on Nov. 22, 2004. He was also named to the league's honor roll on Feb. 6.
St. John's Student-Athlete Quotes:
"I really enjoyed playing with Moe. He is a great player and I wish him luck and success in the NBA. I hope to join him in the league in a few years."
- D'Angelo Harrison, St. John's Freshman Guard
"Moe is a great teammate. On and off the court he is a great competitor, and you can rely on him in any situation."
- Phil Greene, St. John's Freshman Guard
"Moe is a great teammate and I am proud of him and all he has accomplished. I know he will continue to work hard."
- Sir'Dominic Pointer, St. John's Freshman Guard/Forward
"I'm very happy for him to be able to have a shot at reaching his dream, it was great playing with him as my teammate. On and off the court he's a great person to have on your side."
- Amir Garrett, St. John's Freshman Forward
"He's just a great teammate on and off the court."
- God'sgift Achiuwa, St. John's Junior Forward