Moe Harkless of St. John's drafted 15th by Philadelphia 76ers

St. John's Maurice Harkless, center, talks to reporters

St. John's Maurice Harkless, center, talks to reporters after being picked No. 15 by the Philadelphia 76ers. (June 28, 2012) (Credit: AP)

NEWARK -- It had been 11 years and 634 draft picks since someone from St. John's was last selected in the NBA draft. That streak ended Thursday night when Moe Harkless' name was called.

The 6-9 small forward, who averaged 15.5 points and 8.6 rebounds en route to being named Big East Rookie of the Year, was picked by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 15th pick in the first round.

"I'm really thankful for this opportunity and thankful to the Philadelphia organization for drafting me," Harkless said. "I'm going to work really hard and try to help the team out in any way that I can . . . I know they are a really young team.

"They play really fast. I think that's the type of game I like to play and I think I'll fit in well."

Harkless, a Queens native, became the first St. John's product to be drafted since 2001 when Omar Cook was selected by Orlando with the third pick in the second round. The last St. John's player taken in the first round was Erick Barkley, by Portland with the 28th pick in the 2000 draft.

Philadelphia was one of nine teams Harkless worked out for, ranging from Cleveland (fourth pick) to Boston (21st and 22nd picks).

His stock began to rise after he impressed at the NBA predraft camp in mid-June in Chicago, where he said he altered the notion that he is a poor shooter and showed that he can "compete with basically anybody."

Harkless -- who will be playing behind All-Star Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young -- brings athleticism, range and length that could help him thrive as a perimeter player.

St. John's coach Steve Lavin praised Harkless. "Moe is the most well-rounded and complete player I've coached relative to this juncture or stage of a playing career," Lavin said in a statement. "His athleticism set him apart from others. Not surprisingly, Moe impressed NBA brass in recent workouts and interviews. We are happy for Moe and his family."

On the cusp of fame and fortune, Harkless said he is most excited about playing against the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Durant, his favorite player.

"It's mind-boggling that those are guys that I'm watching on TV and now I'm going to be on the court with them," he said. "It's definitely something I'm looking forward to.

"Every kid, when they're young and they play basketball, this is what they talk about, going to the NBA. It's really a dream come true."

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