Moe Harkless Will Leave St. John’s, Declare for NBA Draft

This post also appeared on’s CollegeBasketballTalk.

After a period of speculation that followed St. John’s season-ending loss in the Big East tournament, freshman forward Moe Harkless has made it official: he will hire an agent and head to the NBA draft.

The announcement came at a Monday afternoon press conference at Madison Square Garden in New York City, as Harkless sat alongside his mother, Rosa, and St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin.

“It has been my lifelong dream to play in the NBA, and I am excited to have that opportunity to make the jump,” Harkless said in a press release. “I would like to thank Coach Lavin, our staff and my teammates for being there for me throughout the whole season.”

Harkless was named the Big East Rookie of the Year and averaged 15.3 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Red Storm this past season. Against Providence, he set the scoring record for most point by a freshman in a Big East debut, hanging 32 points on the Friars.

The record was previously held by Allen Iverson and Troy Murphy.

Over the course of the season, Harkless developed more aggressiveness and learned to use the physical gifts that he was granted with his 6-8, 210-pound frame. At Cameron Indoor, he scored 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a loss to Duke.

Scouts project Harkless will go anywhere from 13th to 25th in the first round and, despite his ability to pull out of the draft by April 10 under NCAA rules, he expressed his desire to gain representation and remain in the pool.

Though the Red Storm will be losing their best player, the move is positive for Steve Lavin’s recruiting efforts, especially in New York City.

Harkless came to St. John’s as a Top 50 player, but few saw him as a one-and-done. With his move to the NBA, Lavin can now use that as a recruiting tool to attract players who are looking to make the shift from high school to college to the NBA.

The Red Storm have two players committed to their 2012 class so far: Felix Balamou of Our Savior New American (NY) and ultra-athletic forward JaKarr Sampson of Brewster Academy (NH). Sampson returns to the Red Storm after being ruled ineligible at the beginning of the 2011 season. Lavin has made it known that he is looking to bring three more prospects on board during the spring signing period.

Moe Harkless Wins Big East Rookie of the Year

NEW YORK– After a while, it looked like a foregone conclusion, but it became official on Tuesday night: Moe Harkless is the Big East Rookie of the Year.

Harkless received his award from Big East Commissioner John Marinatto on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, hours after the Red Storm’s season came to a close with a 73-59 loss to Pittsburgh.

He stepped to the podium after receiving the award and, with the stoic reservedness we’ve come to expect from the Queens native, he thanked the committee for his selection and his teammates for support, then paused.

“I really don’t know what else to say, man,” he said with a smile.

The 6-8 freshman averaged 15 points and almost nine rebounds for the Red Storm this season, notching 11 double-doubles and eclipsing the 20-point mark seven times.

For St. John’s, he is the second Big East Rookie of the Year in the program’s history.

As was expected, after the presentation, he was showered with questions about his future at St. John’s and a possible move to the NBA.

“I haven’t had a chance to sit down with my coaches, family, and teammates,” he said, maintaining that he is undecided about his future.

He was surrounded by his teammates as he took questions, and, as he explained one of his answers, someone yelled out, “One more year, Moe!”

Harkless’ decision will come in time. For now, it remains a waiting game.