After losing over 90 percent of their scoring from their 2011 NCAA Tournament team, the Red Storm lacked firepower. Thrusted into the fold as a freshman, D'Angelo Harrison seized the opportunity presented by coach Steve Lavin. The shooting guard responded with a team-leading 16.8 points per game. After dropping a then career-high 29 points freshman year against DePaul, Harrison recognized the coaching staff's trust in his abilities at 19.
"The coaches always do a good job when I'm missing shots...because they believe in me," said Harrison. "After I hit two, three in a row, it was like I'm going to have a night. I had an incredible night."
He would continue the torrid pace throughout his stay in the Big Apple despite the lack of production around him. Harrison teamed with NBA talent in Moe Harkless and Jakarr Sampson, but an inefficient frontcourt nullified the Red Storm from reaching the upper echelon of the Big East early in his career.
However, Harrison's senior play, and contributions from the likes of Rysheed Jordan and Chris Obekpa, have St. John's contenders in the 2015 Big East Tournament. Not having to be heavily featured in the offense has allowed Harrison's game to flourish as a possible POY candidate in the Big East.
In addition, there are a plethora of factors as to why Harrison should win the illustrious award. However, we'll just delve into three.
1. Contribution to Team
Harrison, for the fourth time in his heralded career, leads St. John's in scoring and is second in the Big East at 17.8 points per game. Epitomizing the up-tempo St. John's attack, the senior went for 33 points against DePaul late in the season on a robust 10-14 from the field.
Harrison has boosted the Red Storm mightily when on the floor evident by his career high 116.7 ORtg and 21.7 PER this season per sports-reference.com. With a decrease in attempts from the field, the guard has converted a career-high 42 percent of his looks while allowing underclassmen like Jordan and Phil Greene IV to flourish.
Harrison was known as a high volume shooter early in his career, but altered his approach to benefit his team and improve his all-around attack.
2. Stellar Play Against Stellar Competition
When Harrison faces premier programs, the microwave ability doesn't turn off. The Red Storm blitzed Syracuse on the road back in December with Harrison posting a game-high 24 points. The guard finished 4-6 behind the arc against Syracuse's patented zone defense who had no answer for Harrison. Against Providence and Big East POY candidates Kris Dunn and LaDontae Henton, Harrison poured in a combined 35 points in two victories over the Friars.
Even in defeat, Harrison puts up numbers that are deemed worthy of POY consideration. Butler could not contain the senior, whose 31 points came off of a variety of shots on offense. Subsequently, Harrison carved up Darrun Hilliard's Villanova Wildcats for 25 points on 8-15 shooting from the field. Facing the Big East's elite in the conference tournament, Harrison can once again catch fire on his home court.
3. Elaborate Big East Resume
No other First Team All-Big East player has more experience or greater scoring production than D'Angelo Harrison throughout their careers. The senior has had a profound impact on St. John's basketball and will go down as one of the elite talents of this decade in the conference. Coaches voting also could take into consideration how Harrison has transformed the Red Storm.
As afterthoughts in 2012 to relevant tournament contenders in 2015, Harrison has been coach Steve Lavin's bell cow and thrived in the role. The shooting guard registered 34.8 minutes per game in 2015, good for third in the conference, and his efficiency increased from his junior slate. Harrison started day one, through his final regular season game senior year, and showcased the grit and production deemed worthy of the Big East Player of the Year in his senior season.