Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Harkless picks UConn

A pipeline from New York to Connecticut that started in recent years with Charlie Villanueva, and has also included the likes of A.J. Price and Kemba Walker, looks like it will continue in 2011.

Forest Hills (Queens, N.Y.) junior Maurice Harkless announced today that he will be headed to Storrs in two years.

Nathan Blue, Harkless’ advisor and AAU coach, said that Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun was the key in Harkless choosing the Huskies.

“Maurice decided it was best to be taught the game by a Hall of Fame coach who really wanted him at UConn,” Blue said Wednesday afternoon. “He wants to win national titles – not one, but multiple – and he feels UConn will give him the best opportunity at reaching his long and short-term goals.”

Harkless chose Connecticut over Fordham, Kentucky, Seton Hall and St. John’s. The only school out of those that he didn’t visit was Kentucky – which made the decision to go to Connecticut a little less agonizing.

“We had planned to visit Kentucky, but when he broke his foot, we had to cancel,” Blue said. “Then we were told that the focus was on 2010 but they wanted him for 2011. They weren’t going to be showing a lot of 2011 recruits love, because they need 2010. It made the choice easier.”

Harkless is a lanky 6-6 swingman who can play multiple positions. He can handle the ball and drive to the basket and finishes very well at the rim. Harkless has decent form on his shot, too.

Interestingly enough, Blue said that Harkless is still growing, which could make him even more of a mismatch at the college level.

“[He will play] small forward at UConn,” Blue said. “They’ll have too many bodies for him to play the 4/5, but if he hits 6’10”, he will be a versatile four man. But he’s a real solid perimeter player who blocks a lot of shots.”

Harkless has yet to reach his potential, and does need to fine-tune his game – mainly his outside jump shot and his interior game.

However, Blue is confident that Harkless will make an immediate impact in the Big East, because of his natural abilities and commitment to winning.

“He’s going to be a great player at UConn – not a good player,” Blue said. “He has the bodily features to play the game that most don’t have. He works hard on his game and he’s selfish when needed.

"I think he will be one of UConn’s most talked-about players and he would rather win a title than win the Big East Rookie of the Year award.”

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