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In just one year, D'Angelo Harrison has developed in every way possible, headlined by becoming a leader for St. John's.
D`Angelo Harrison has been critical to the Red Storm since his first day on the job.
The 6'3 guard's Texas-sized swagger was a solid fit for the Big Apple and for a young St. John's team. The transitional period into the spotlight of the high-pressured college basketball scene was nonexistent. And the second he walked into the door, he was comfortable. It's just the way he rolls.
When we spoke to him a year ago, Harrison was a year younger and without a full year of experience (1130 minutes on the floor, to be exact). Being young and filled with swagger, his anticipation and projections for his first season at St. John's were gigantic.
"I think this team will get to a Final Four," Harrison projected back in November of 2011. "If we work hard and stay together as a unit, we will shock a lot of people."
As the story goes, St. John's worked hard but failed to stay together. Harrison's first year with the Red Storm resulted in a 13-19 sobering disappointment.
Now, without having to share center stage with Maurice Harkless in 2012-13, D'Angelo Harrison has a chance to create his own legacy. Going into his sophomore season under Steve Lavin at St. John's, Harrison is embracing a new role as leader of the young Johnnies. Heck, some even project him as the Big East's best offensive player.
"I was a young guy and was immature [last year]," Harrison admitted on Friday after Red Storm Tip-Off. "Now, when the young [guards] have a question, they can come to me."
Harrison found out the hard way that it's difficult to win consistently, let alone contend for a Final Four. But he's learning, and with his obtained knowledge of the ropes, he's modifying his words.
"The first game is at 2:00 against Detroit, that's what we're aiming for," he told the Rumble on Friday. "We're looking forward to that one on ESPN with the lights on. If we get that game, it's going to be good for us."
Instead of jumping the gun and saying that, no, this would be the year the Johnnies make it to the Georgia Dome in April, Harrison took a step back. Despite his natural inclinations toward energetic boldness, he showed a hint of modesty.
St. John's will once again go into battle with one of the youngest, most inexperienced squads in America this season. Unlike the normal track, the development of the returnees' maturity is in the fast lane with the gas to the floor. With the other "veteran" wings and guards behind him, D'Angelo Harrison is in the driver's seat.
But just because he's growing up doesn't mean he needs to lose his identity that makes him special. Harrison simply wouldn't be himself without raising the hype.
"There's one thing that I know for a fact. We're going to make the NCAA Tournament."