Following Wednesday's practice, St. John's junior guard D'Angelo Harrison was mobbed by his teammates at center court. The occasion was a special one -- his 20th birthday. But for Harrison, the revelry was less about his birthday and more about being back in the place he loves.
"It felt like I'm wanted again and back in the mix," he said.
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Harrison was suspended for the final three games of the regular season and postseason for a violation of team rules. Before the suspension, Harrison was averaging 17.8 points and 4.3 rebounds.
"I was hurt," Harrison said of the suspension. "I definitely wanted to play for the team. I told them right then and there that I wanted to stay. I'm back now and am looking forward to having a great season."
St. John's reinstated Harrison in the first week of July. He will be with the team on their upcoming "Taking Europe by Storm" tour, which runs from Monday through Sept. 1. The team will travel to France, Italy and Spain. While in Europe, the Red Storm will play five games against European professionals.
The NCAA allows teams 10 practices before a European trip, according to a news release. The practices have given St. John's coach Steve Lavin an early look at his 2013-2014 squad, including Harrison.
"What I noticed more than anything is that his temperament and maturity is on display," Lavin said. "That's encouraging. Like all kids, he's a work in progress. But to this point, I'm impressed."
After spending the summer training with former NBA guard John Lucas in Houston, Harrison believes he has shown the necessary growth to earn back the trust of his coaches and teammates.
"I've stuck with it and done everything they've asked me to do," Harrison said. "I finished the semester off well and made the Big East All-Academic team. I've talked to the team and the staff. I've done everything right."
Harrison credits much of his rehabilitation to Lucas' wellness program. As part of the program, Harrison worked out twice a day, saw an anger management counselor five days a week and also participated in yoga.
Harrison said the program helped him both on and off the court.
"I'm in a better place," he said. "I can honestly say I'm a different person."