Published on March 11th, 2012 | by Bryant West, Columnist0
2012 NBA Draft Prospect Stock Watch: Maurice Harkless
Name: Maurice “Moe” Harkless
Hometown: Queens, NY
Physicals: 6′ 8″, 208 lbs, 18 years old
College: St. John’s
NBA Position: Small Forward
Current Stats: 15.3 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.4 BPG, 2.4 TPG, 44.5% FG, 67.8% FT, 20.2% 3P
With the NCAA Tournament pool finally beginning to gel, what better time is there to look at a player who will definitely not be in the big dance?
It’s a shame that Harkless and his St. Johns teammates won’t be entering the tournament, because he went out with a bang, scoring 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds on 10-16 shooting in the Red Storm’s 73-59 loss to Pittsburgh in the Big East tournament.
Despite the fact that he’s still extremely raw, scouts are convinced he’ll enter the NBA Draft this season and expect he’ll be a late first round selection. St. John’s is a team in flux, especially with the future of Head Coach Steve Lavin’s job in question.
Harkless has been refered to by one scout, according to Chad Ford of ESPN, as ” a poor man’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — which actually is a pretty serious compliment.” He’s similar to Kidd-Gilchrist mainly in their physical abilities: both are strong, deceptively quick, and very athletic. Harkless, standing at 6’8” with a long reach will have an excellent NBA ready body if he can add some more muscle (he currently weighs in at just 200-210 lbs, depending on who you ask).
He’s got a very well rounded set of skills, but none of them are NBA ready yet. He’s good at penetrating to the basket, with good control off the dribble, but until he’s bulked up he won’t be a threat in the pros.
He’s got an improving jumpshot, but he’s hardly consistent (as evident by his 20% three-point shooting). For the Red Storm, he’s one of their biggest players, and has been playing power forward most of the time. In the pros, he’ll be a small forward, and he really needs to work on his shooting mechanics. As evident by his 67% free throw shooting, his limitations aren’t just from deep—he has to fix a lot about his shot. Kyle Nelson of DraftExpress had this to say -
On film, inconsistent shooting mechanics and release points are definitely a concern, as Harkless rarely shoots the ball the same way twice. He is a solid shooter in rhythm, but it takes him too long to plant his feet and get his shot off, which sometimes results in a rigid, truncated release when he’s not completely wide open.
He’s an above average rebounder for his position, but it’ll take some bulking up before he can hang with the big boys. His ball handling is alright, and he has good control on his penetration, but against bigger and equally quick defenders he’ll have trouble if he doesn’t work on his handles.
What separates him from Kidd-Gilchrist is a lack of Michael’s work ethic and motor. There are times when Harkless looks a bit lazy, especially on defense. He has the tools to be a fantastic defender, and he’s real quick both as a blocker (1.4 a game) and as a ball hawk (1.4 steals a contest) but he’ll need to show the props he’s really dedicated to his craft.
Potential wise, it’ll be really interesting to see how far he can go in the pros. Can he develop consistency and become a late draft steal? Or will he end up like Donte Greene, never really coming to his full potential?
Draft Watch: As a mid to late first round selection, it’ll be hard to gauge exactly where Harkless could go. There is always a demand in the league for an athletic, high potential wing, and he’d find many great fits.
Unfortunately for Harkless, there are quite a few talented small forwards who will jockey him down the draft board. He’s not as good as Terrence Jones (a far better shooter), and Washington’s Terrence Ross is currently a better all around player. Is he better than Vanderbilt’s Jeff Taylor, or international wingman Evan Fournier? It’ll be interesting to see who he works out with before the draft.
Houston could certainly stand to bulk up on the wing, and they are current slated to pick #17 in the draft, although that may be a bit early for Harkless at this point.
Any number of late first round level teams—the Hawks, the Lakers, the Magic, the Celtics—could all use some more small forward help, and could stand to wait a bit and develop a project type player. If Harkless gets a coach and teammates that properly motivate him, I could really see him far outshining his draft projections… as long as he fixes that hitch in his jumper.
Conclusion: With excellent NBA level athleticism and a well-rounded skill set, Harkless won’t go too high because of his below-average shooting stroke. But he’s got excellent potential if he finds both a consistent jumper and a work ethic. Unless he vastly impresses in workouts, expect him anywhere from picks 20 on up.