Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
St. John’s Frosh Get Chance to Shine on National Stage
NEW YORK — Moe Harkless and D’Angelo Harrison were seniors in high school when St. John’s ran then-No. 3 Duke out of Madison Square Garden by 15 points last Jan. 30.
A year later, Harkless and Harrison will get a chance to test themselves on a national stage when the Johnnies (9-11 3-6 Big East) visit No. 8 Duke (16-3, 4-1 ACC) Saturday in a nationally televised game (noon, ESPN).
The 6-foot-8 Harkless is averaging 16 points per game and the 6-3 Harrison 15.5, putting them at first and second, respectively, among freshmen scorers in the Big East. Harkless also ranks fifth overall in the Big East in rebounding (8.6 rpg).
“I’m pretty surprised about how well I’ve been playing so far,” Harkless, a Queens native, said after putting up 23 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks as St. John’s routed West Virginia, 78-62, Wednesday at MSG. “It’s a tough league and I’m just going out there and playing hard.”
Still, Harrison and Harkless have combined to win just one Big East Rookie of the Week honor, won by Harrison Jan. 9. UConn wunderkind Andre Drummond has won the award three times, and Providence’s LaDontae Henton captured it twice.
“As far as the recognition, I’m not really worried about that, I’m just worried about winning games,” Harkless said.
Even though Harkless is the face of St. John’s, as evidenced by his picture adorning posters and billboards throughout the city, Harrison doesn’t think his teammate is receiving his just due.
“I don’t think so because he gets a double-double almost every night,” Harrison said. “He’s consistent mostly all the games through the Big East so far, so I think he can deserve a little more credit. But Moe’s a great player, he’s going to get his recognition.”
Harrison, meanwhile, is averaging 17.1 points in league play, sixth among Big East players and his 1.8 steals is 12th. He has scored 20 or more points in four of the last 10 games.
St. John’s routed West Virginia despite starting five freshmen for the first time since the 1927-28 season.
“We don’t look at it like that,” Harkless said. “We’re all basketball players and we just go out there and try to have fun and win games.”
Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins faced “The Fab Five” in the early ’90s during his tenure at Cincinnati, and drew a comparison between that squad and this current St. John’s team.
“I saw the Fab Five, I didn’t like that much,” Huggins said. “I didn’t like this a whole lot more. They got some talented guys, they’re talented.”
And now they get a chance to showcase that talent on a national stage.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.