NEW YORK - St. John's freshman swingman and All-BIG EAST honorable mention selection Moe Harkless was named the 2011-12 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, as voted upon by the league's coaches and announced by the conference on Tuesday.
Harkless is only St. John's second-ever BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and first since David Russell took home the honor in 1979-80 after averaging 10.6 points and 5.3 rebounds.
"The BIG EAST Rookie of the Year award is a great honor for Moe and our program," said St. John's head coach Steve Lavin. "Because Moe is a product of New York City it was fitting that he received the award at legendary Madison Square Garden with his family and teammates in attendance. We are proud of what Moe and our young group accomplished this season."
"This award means a lot to me. I would like to thank the BIG EAST and all of the coaches that voted for me," Harkless said. "I would like to credit my teammates and coaches for this award. As a team with so many new players and five freshmen starting, we held together and did a good job this year."
Harkless averaged 15.2 points per contest in the regular season, ranking him second in the conference and ninth in the nation among rookies. Harkless also finished the regular season tied as the conference's top rebounding frosh with 8.6 boards per game. The freshman's scoring average ranked him 13th among all BIG EAST players, while his rebound average was tied for sixth, his 1.5 blocked shots were tied for seventh and both his 1.65 steals and 36.0 minutes per contest were 10th.
The rookie's 11 double-doubles this season, with six in BIG EAST action, rank tied for third among conference players this season and are tied for 10th among all active BIG EAST players. Harkless has grabbed 267 rebounds to date, 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 472 points during the regular season, which is fifth all-time on the freshman scoring list behind teammate and new rookie scoring leader D'Angelo Harrison (532), who averaged 17.2 ppg during the regular season to lead all BIG EAST freshmen and rank third nationally.
In St. John's win over Providence on Dec. 27, 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 Tuesday's 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.
The honor is the latest in a series for St. John's heralded freshman class. The same day Harkless was named an All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention, 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.