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St. John's freshman Moe Harkless declares for draft

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer

St. John's had one of the youngest teams in the country this season, often starting five freshmen at a time. Next year, the Red Storm will be improved – but they will have to do it without their best player.

On Monday afternoon, freshman forward Moe Harkless announced he would enter his name into the NBA draft.

“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 during a press conference at Madison Square Garden. “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, a 6-foot-8 forward from Queens, was named the Big East Rookie of the Year after averaging 15.5 points and 8.6 rebounds. He impressed scouts by going for 30 points and 13 rebounds against Duke, and scoring 25 points against Pittsburgh in the opening round of the Big East tournament.

“Because Moe is a product of New York City, it is only fitting that he announces his decision at legendary Madison Square Garden, the Johnnies' home court, with his family in attendance,” head coach Steve Lavin said. “We are proud of what Moe and our young group accomplished this season.”

Harkless is projected as a mid-to-late first round pick by most draft services. The loss will severely hurt St. John's heading into next season, but the Red Storm did pick up a commitment from top-50 forward JaKarr Sampson last week. The versatile forward is a lockdown defender and tremendous athlete; he could start immediately in Harkless' place. The rest of the Red Storm rotation will also return next year, and Lavin has said he expects to sign at least three more players.

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