Harkless: One That Got Away
Why can't UConn get players like that? Well, it did: Harkless, of course, committed to UConn back in December, 2009. However, in June, 2010, he de-committed. Why?
I asked Jim Calhoun about it last week, and here's what he had to say:
"It ran back and forth. He felt the moment Roscoe (Smith) committed, he said, ‘How can I play with him?’ Well, Roscoe’s going to be playing with different people himself, because we’re bringing in a kid from Germany. But he didn’t want to hear about it. But he’s doing well at St. John’s. I hope he does exceptionally well, he seems like a nice kid. And Roscoe’s got a national championship ring, so he’s done pretty well. Things have a way of working out."
While the arrival of Smith (who committed in January, 2010 ... Niels Giffey didn't commit until a few weeks after Harkless had de-committed) may have played a role in Harkless's departure, it's safe to say there was more to it than that. No doubt, the controversy swirling around the UConn program at the time played a role. Calhoun had missed seven games that season for undisclosed medical reasons, and there were questions about his future with the program (even though he had signed a new contract extension a few weeks before Harkless de-committed).
Plus, the program was found to have committed eight major violations, and the punishments weren't known yet. There was talk that the Huskies could receive some sort of postseason ban.
All of this played into Harkless' decision to de-commit, according to those close to the situation.
But Calhoun is right: these things have a way of working out. Same with Cleveland Melvin, who has found the perfect spot at DePaul. Both Harkless and Melvin are the focal points of their respective teams and are putting up big numbers. There is no way either would be putting up the same numbers if they were at UConn right now. Or do you think Melvin would have averaged 18 a game last year with Kemba Walker here? Or Harkless doing the same this year on a team with Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier and Andre Drummond?
We'll have more on this in a story for the Register in another day or two ...