The final goal is a spot on an NBA roster. To get there, though, college basketball's best spend the months between the end of the NCAA season and the NBA Draft working on everything a organization will analyze from on-court skill to physical conditioning to how they interview. The IMG Academy basketball program has successfully prepared prospects for the NBA Draft combine, private workouts and NBA career for years, including names like Kobe Bryant, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, Jrue Holiday, Iman Shumpert and many others.
When he was a senior high school, St. John's coach, Steve Lavin, called Moe Harkless the "best player in New York City." How did Harkless respond during his freshman year at St. John's? Big East Rookie of the Year honors and a Big East freshman record for points in their debut game when he scored 32 against Providence. Harkless, a projected first-round NBA pick, recently took time to talk about growing up in Jamaica, Queens, who provides his daily motivation and being the best.
Moe Harkless on...
...growing up in NYC: I grew up in Jamaica, Queens. It wasn't a very good neighborhood, but it gave me experiences just like any kid had. I played football to escape when I was young, but I fell into basketball and would just stay in the park from sunup to sundown.
Being in the environment I was in without having a father figure was tough. I had to grow up fast. I had to help my mom with a lot of things a young kid doesn't have to do at that age. That's why people now say I act more mature than a typical 18 or 19 year old. It shows what kind of person my mother was and how she raised me.
...his driving force: Growing up, it was me, my mom, my grandmother, my older sister and then my half-brother was born. Once he came along, my mindset changed. Instead of being the baby, I was a role model. He's six years old now and he means everything to me. Everything I do is for him. He wants to play ball. I actually think he should be on television. He's a funny kid.
...being tabbed the best in NYC: Well, everyone believes that they are the best player in New York City. If you don't think that, you shouldn't play. After he said that, I had to always bring it because I had a target on my back. Any time someone did something against me, it was like a trophy for them.
...setting the Big East debut single-game scoring record: During shoot around, I told one of my teammates that something special was going to happen. I just felt it. Then I got on the floor and everything was going in. I wasn't forcing anything. It just felt good. It was kind of a wake-up call that I had to keep that level of play up, because the bar was set pretty high.
...getting drafted: I can't imagine how it's going to feel, but it's my dream. I can't wait for that day to come. I won't stop being nervous until my name is called.
...his basketball dream: I want to be one of the best basketball players to ever play the game. If you play basketball, that should be one of your goals. You should aim high.