St. John's lands a big-time local recruit

New St. John's men's basketball coach Steve Lavin scored a major coup on Tuesday, getting a verbal commitment from Maurice Harkless to join the Red Storm starting in the 2011-2012 season.

Harkless, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound small forward, is listed as the No. 81 player in his class in the entire country, and the 19th-best player at his position, on the ESPNU 100.

"Harkless is an explosive athlete with great size and length for the wing positions," according to Scouts, Inc. (Click here to read more of Harkless' evaluation.)

Harkless is a local product -- formerly of Forest Hills High School in Queens, now playing for South Kent (Conn.). He originally committed to UConn in June, but then re-opened his recruitment soon after.

Lavin landing a local product of this magnitude is a good sign for the future of the St. John's program. Norm Roberts, Lavin's predecessor, had difficulty convincing local players to stay home and play for St. John's.