QUEENS, N.Y. - The countdown is on. In only 10 days, St. John's freshman swingman and BIG EAST Rookie of the Year Moe Harkless will be chosen in the NBA Draft - projecting as a first round selection whose stock is on the rise, according to a multitude of NBA Draft analysts.
His play during the Chicago NBA Pre-Draft Camp in mid-June was praised by many, including the likes of ESPN's Chad Ford. Before Chicago, Harkless worked out for both Orlando (pick No. 19) and Boston (21 and 22). Last week, he visited Cleveland (4 and 24) and Philadelphia (15). Upcoming workouts will include Sacramento (5), Portland (6 and 11), Golden State (7 and 30), Houston (14 and 16) and Dallas (17). Interest has been shown by numerous others, such as Toronto (8) Milwaukee (12) and Phoenix (13), per CBS' Jeff Goodman.
"Moe is the most well-rounded and complete player I've coached relative to this particular juncture or stage of a playing career," said St. John's head coach Steve Lavin. "His size, skill set and athleticism set him apart from others. Naturally, Moe has impressed NBA brass in his recent workouts and interviews. 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."
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 who completed his 13th season in 2011-12. Earl Watson, a 2001 draft choice, is now a 12-year NBA veteran. Trevor Ariza was the last signee during Lavin's UCLA tenure.
Harkless is expected to become the first basketball player of The Lavin Era at St. John's to be selected in the NBA Draft, and the second NBA player overall after D.J. Kennedy's call-up to the Cleveland Cavaliers in April of 2012. Harkless, who is projected to be selected as high as the No. 5 pick according to draft websites, looks to become the 60th all-time St. John's men's basketball player selected in the NBA Draft - the first since 2001 and the first in the first round since 2000.
Harkless was 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 averaging 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 ppg 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 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 paced 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 during the 2011-12 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.
Harkless was honored many times in 2011-12. On March 4, Harkless was named an All-BIG EAST honorable mention selection, and both he and Harrison were tabbed 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 that 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.
Following the season in April, Harkless was named the 2012 Rookie of the Year by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association (MBWA) and a first team All-Met honoree.