With the NBA Draft fast approaching, the national focus has been on the potential first round picks coming out of several historic basketball powerhouse in clusters: the core-four's of Kentucky (consensus #1 pick Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Terrence Jones) and North Carolina (Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Kendall Marshall), as well as dynamic duos out of UConn (Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond), Syracuse (Fab Melo and Dion Waiters), Vanderbilt (Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins) and Baylor (Quincy Miller and Perry Jones III).
However, St. John's small forward Moe Harkless is a potential lottery pick just as worthy of serious consideration. Harkless, the Draft's only born and bred New Yorker, brings size and speed, a cerebral approach to working within an offense, and a toughness to whichever team is astute enough to select him.
As Kevin Durant lights up the NBA Finals, fans are eager for the next scoring threat who can effectively play out of position; as a natural small forward, Harkless spent much of his freshman season playing power forward and center on his way to averaging 15.5 for the year.
He's also tough. He started all 32 games in 2011 en route to being named the 2012 Big East Rookie of the Year, and he's established himself inside the paint; he was tied as Big East's top freshman rebounder with 8.6 per game. If skill were not enough, Harkless demonstrates a high level of maturity. St. John's head coach, Steve Lavin, describes Harkless as possessing a "certain regal presence."
"I want to help whatever team I'm on," Harkless said in a recent phone interview with the media. His draft stock has risen steadily after impressive workouts in Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Orlando and Cleveland. The travel has been draining, but it's an excellent indication of his ability to handle a stressful travel schedule with poise.
"The closer you get the harder it gets, " he admitted. "I'm doing a lot of moving around and traveling from city to city to work out, but I just need to stay focused, stay tough and, when I get tired, fight through it."
Part of the grueling fight in preparing for the Draft is staying in tip-top shape. In order to do so Harkless trained for two weeks in Sarasota, Florida at the IMG Academy.
"I've been focused on nothing but basketball ever since. I've been working out all day, about four times per day, training hard and getting ready for my workouts with the teams," explained Harkless, who in that time logged between 50-60 separate basketball oriented workouts in a fourteen days.
That dedication has already paid off; he's pack on 15 pounds of additional muscle.
With a tremendous freshman season on the books and unlimited potential at the age of 19, some experts have Harkless going as high as 5th overall in the Draft.
ESPN's Draft expert Chad Ford, has become a believer, describing Harkless as "Excellent in transition and finishing at the rim [as well as being] a good rebounder and shot blocker."
Lavin has said that among all the players he's coached, both at UCLA and St. John's, Harkless is among the most-NBA ready.
Additionally, Lavin has said that among all the players he's coached, both at UCLA and St. John's, Harkless is among the most-NBA ready. "Moe is the most well-rounded and complete player I’ve coached relative to this particular juncture or stage of a playing career. His size, skill set and athleticism set him apart from others…As a result, his stock continues to rise since declaring for the Draft. I will not be the least bit surprised if Moe is chosen as a lottery pick on Draft night."
Lavin is first-rate when it comes to cultivating collegiate talents who make the jump to the professional level. While at UCLA, Lavin helped players like Baron Davis, Earl Watson and Trevor Ariza grow and mature into the NBA veterans they are today.
When selected, Harkless will be the first St. John's first round draft pick since Eric Barkley was taken by Portland 28th overall in 2000.
Beyond the projections and expert analysis, perhaps the best measuring stick is how Harkless performed against fellow soon-to-be NBA players. On December 1 at Kentucky, Harkless posted his first career double-double against the eventual national championship team comprised of five future NBA players. One would be hard-pressed to find an NCAA freshman in 2012 who had a comparable showing against such a formidable opponent. Then again, that's why Harkless is being projected as one of the highest selected freshman in this year's Draft.
As part of the "Fresh Five," St. John's 2011 all-freshman starting line-up, Harkless helped lead the Red Storm to wins over UCLA and Big East rivals, DePaul and No. 20/18 Notre Dame, to finish out the regular season and, in doing so, proved he has the capabilities to effectively assume a leadership role.
"Ever since I declared for the draft, I watch an NBA game differently than I used to because next year I'll be matched up against some of these guys," he said. "It's definitely starting to hit me now and it is a great feeling to know I'm going to be on the same court as the guys I admire next year."
Fan Hub Action
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
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