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D'Angelo Harrison playing for imprisoned brother

D'Angelo Harrison (11) of the St. John's Red

D'Angelo Harrison (11) of the St. John's Red Storm takes a shot against the Seton Hall Pirates at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, January 27 2013 in New York. The Red Storm defeated the Pirates 71-67.(Photo by Jim McIsaac) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Barring injury, St. John's sophomore guard D'Angelo Harrison should pass the 1,000-point mark for his young career in the next three or four games. He scored 24 Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden to lead the Red Storm's 71-67 win over Seton Hall and push his career total to 940 points.

Harrison said he's not thinking about that benchmark number because he's focused on winning enough games to reach the NCAA tournament after suffering through last season with a 13-19 record. But Harrison knows one person, in particular, is following his progress.

"It probably means more to my family than to me, especially my brother,” Harrison said. “I e-mailed him today right before the game and told him it’s like 900-something. Stats are cool, but I just want to win. Last year, was a struggle for us. I’m just trying to win this year.”

Communication with his 21-year-old brother DeAndre is complicated by the fact that he’s in a prison in Huntsville, Texas, serving a 10-year sentence for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. When they were younger, DeAndre was an equally accomplished basketball player as his younger brother, who is a sophomore at St. John’s.

Their shared love for the sport is part of the family bond that keeps each one going. D’Angelo sends e-mails, and his brother replies in letters sent by traditional mail service. DeAndre’s last letter arrived a week ago Sunday.

“He was saying, 'Keep focused,'" D’Angelo Harrison said. “He can’t call right now because he’s on lockdown. Something happened…I e-mail him almost every day. He writes back, but a letter takes two or three days.”

Harrison leads the Red Storm with a 19.8 scoring average, and some wonder if he might follow the lead of former teammate Maurice Harkless, who left for the NBA draft following last season.

“I’m just worried about this year,” Harrison said after St. John’s (13-7) improved to 5-3 in Big East play with its fourth straight conference win. “I want to make the [NCAA] tournament. Everybody’s stock will go up if we make the tournament and win games. That’s all I’m worried about right now.”

In other words, D’Angelo Harrison is trying to follow his older brother’s advice and keep his eye on the prize that matters.