SJU student first NBA draftee since ’01

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Moe Harkless last week became the first St. John’s University player since 2001 to be drafted to the National Basketball Association. He is the 60th all-time St. John’s player to be drafted into the NBA, according to the university.

Harkless, the Big East rookie of the year, was picked No. 15 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in Newark last Thursday.

He was called on to the stage by NBA Commissioner David Stern as No. 15 overall, marking the highest St. John’s draft pick since Malik Sealy was drafted No. 14 overall by the Indiana Pacers in 1992.

“Moe is the most well-rounded and complete player I’ve coached relative to this juncture or stage of a playing career,” said St. John’s head Coach Steve Lavin in a release. “His intellect, size, skill set and athleticism set him apart from others. Not surprisingly, Moe impressed NBA brass in his recent workouts and interviews. We are happy for Moe and his family. Given the rich heritage of St. John’s basketball, it is a noteworthy distinction to be chosen at No. 15, the highest drafted Johnny in 20 years.”

Lavin called the 76ers a young up-and-coming NBA franchise.

“Moe’s particular talents will fit nicely with the uptempo and flexible system employed by Coach Doug Collins,” he said.

From 1997-2006, a total of 13 players signed or coached by Lavin became draft choices. Baron Davis, a 1999 lottery pick at No. 3 overall, 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 becomes 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.

“I know that they are a really young team and that they play really fast. I think that’s the type of game that I like to play, and I think I’ll fit in well,” said Harkless, of Philadelphia in a release. “That’s really cool to me because I’ve pretty much been close to home my whole life, going to St. John’s and being from New York and having my family close and being able to come out to games is definitely a great feeling.”

Updated 1:51 pm, July 3, 2012
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