2012 Draft Profile: Moe Harkless
Editor’s Note: Throughout the month of June, Timberwolves.com will profile a series of prospects that could be available at Minnesota’s No. 18 pick during the 2012 NBA Draft on June 28. Part four details rising freshman Moe Harkless, a forward who wasn't even the top prospect in St. John's 2011 recruiting class but now has a chance at the NBA lottery.
PROSPECT: Moe Harkless
POSITION: Small forward
WEIGHT: 207 lbs
PROJECTION: late lottery to 20
THE LAST TWO YEARS
After growing up in Queens, NY, Harkless received some early interest and was committed to Connecticut until the summer before his senior year when he re-opened his recruiting. He also transferred schools, enrolling in South Kent (Conn.) for his final season. Harkless then chose St. John's over traditional powerhouses like Arizona and Kentucky, and he became part of a much-heralded recruiting class for new coach Steve Lavin. Rivals.com went as far as to rank the incoming group the third-best recruiting class in the entire country.
While three members of St. John's recruiting class of 2011 were eventually named academically ineligible, Harkless remained unscathed and went on to log the most minutes of any freshman in Division I basketball last year. With a thin frontcourt, Harkless would end up sometimes playing entire games without rest. He burst onto NBA teams' radars when he dropped 30 points and 13 rebounds against Duke, leaving scouts buzzing about his athleticism and motor. Harkless was not considered a "one-and-done" candidate heading into his freshman year, but he now stands a good chance of sneaking into this year's lottery.
Like many prospects this year, NBA scouts are looking at what kind of player Harkless might be in two to three seasons. He has elite-level athleticism paired with a 7'2" wingspan, enough to make any front office excited. Harkless' ball skills and footwork are good for his size, and he can convert just about anything around the hoop. He brings versatility to any lineup, as he played both forward spots and center for St. John's. When he ran the ball up the floor for SJU, he looked comfortable and agile. His frame has room to fill out, so it's almost scary to imagine what he could play like with his current athletic ability coupled with improved bulk. There was word last week that Harkless impressed scouts at the NBA draft combine, and that his interviews there went well.
The most concerning part of Harkless' game is his poor perimeter shooting. He only made 20% of his three-point shots last year (with 80 attempts), and today's NBA almost demands that small forwards to be at least capable from three. His free throw percentage came out to 68%, which isn't terrible, but it's not good, either. It's also worth noting that NBA teams are looking at Harkless down the road, and his stock is rising similarly to past prospects who shot up draft boards based on athletic potential or combine performances. We've seen plenty of players like this before (Joe Alexander, Tyrus Thomas to name a few), and we've seen a good amount of them end up out of the league in a few years after failing to polish the rest of their game.
WHAT HE CAN BRING TO THE WOLVES
Harkless is another "tweener" (like Quincy Miller) who could project at either forward spot. He is athletic and big enough to make some waves early in his career, but he will be looked at as a bit of a project by most teams. If Adelman and staff are willing to invest a year or two in improving his jumper, Harkless could be a skilled menace on the wing.