Sports

Former St. John’s Standout Moe Harkless Struggles To Define His Role In NBA

Former Red Storm star Moe Harkless, #21 Orlando Magic (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

Former Red Storm star Moe Harkless, #21 Orlando Magic (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Moe Harkless is used to winning games in New York City — but that wasn’t the case Monday night.

The former St. John’s standout and current Orlando Magic forward returned to the Big Apple as his team took on the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Harkless put up 16 points, but it wasn’t enough to stop Deron Williams and Brook Lopez as they led the resurgent Nets to a 97-77 win.

“Probably the speed of the game, adjusting to all the traveling, playing every day, pretty much, is tough,” the rookie said after the loss. “I mean, we have played more games already than I played my whole career.”

But adapting to the schedule isn’t the only adjustment the former Big East Rookie of the Year is making this year.

Last season, Harkless recorded 32 starts in 32 games and led the Red Storm with his 36.1 minutes per contest. Coach Steve Lavin referred to his freshman sensation as “the best player in New York City.”

After being drafted 15th overall by Philadelphia and then sent to Orlando as part of the Dwight Howard trade, Harkless is working to build his identity at the next level.

“I’ve been through games where I haven’t played at all, some I’ve played 10 minutes, some I’ve started and [Monday night] I played 34 minutes,” Harkless said. “It’s real inconsistent.”

The 19-year-old has started 22 games for the Orlando Magic after missing the pre-season due to a sports hernia.

The transition, he said, hasn’t been easy.

“You go from being the guy on the team to just another guy on the team trying to find a role,” said Harkless. “Not getting consistent minutes is probably the toughest part of the transition.”

Even so, the Queens native doesn’t regret his decision to go pro with just one season of NCAA hoops under his belt.

“You always look back and think ‘what if I had come back or waited another year?'” Harkless said. “But I think I made the right decision. I’m in a good position right now.”

The Magic make another appearance in New York City Wednesday night when they take on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.