One of the borough’s top hoops stars is continuing his athletic success under the bright lights of college basketball.
Maurice Harkless, a former star forward at Forest Hills High School, was named to the Big East Conference’s Weekly Honor Roll on January 2 for his high-flying efforts in St. John’s games against Providence and Connecticut.
The freshman swingman averaged 24.0 points per game and 9.5 rebounds during a 1-1 week in conference play for the Red Storm. Harkless shot 67.9 percent from the field (19-for-24), 50 percent from long range (3-for-6) and 87.5 percent from the free throw line (7-of-8) to go along with five assists, five steals and two blocks.
Harkless also entered the record books against Providence with a 32 point performance – the most ever by a freshman making his Big East debut. In the 91-67 victory, Harkless went 14-for-17 from the field, 2-for-3 from long range and had 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double in a five-game span. He also dished out four assists, picked four steals and blocked two shots.
In St. John’s game against UConn, Harkless contributed 16 points (5-of-11 field goals, 5-of-5 free throws) and grabbed six rebounds in a 83-69 loss on December 31.
Harkless’ team-best scoring average of 15.7 points per game ranks 14th among all Big East players, his team-leading 8.3 rebounds per game is tied for fifth, his 46.2 field goal percentage is 11th and his 1.6 blocked shots rates 10th in the league.
Becoming the first recruit of the Steve Lavin regime at St. John’s University, he committed to play for the Red Storm in 2011. Harkless had previously made a verbal commitment to play for the University of Connecticut (UConn), but later re-opened his recruiting.
After announcing that he had chosen UConn over Kentucky, he chose to re-examine his options after Lavin joined St. John’s. Programs throughout the country courted him, including the likes of Oregon, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Arizona, Florida, Rutgers and Maryland.