“Moe has chosen to take the next step in his career to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA,” 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.”
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 know if we all keep working hard, a lot of us will be playing together in the league someday.”
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 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.
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.
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.