This wasn't the first time D`Angelo Harrison hit rock bottom. It's also not the first time he has persevered.
If there was ever someone who deserved to be taught a lesson, it was Harrison. He mouthed off during practices, he turned his back on coaches during timeouts and he was sometimes tardy. He failed to meet the expectations set by his superiors, those who were sure Harrison was ready to handle the stage of setting an example for such a youthful St. John's team.
Perhaps it was too soon. Too soon for a rising sophomore just a year removed from his move from Texas to the big city. Too soon for a budding star who only had 544 collegiate points to his name.
Maybe it was all simply too soon for D'Angelo Harrison - too much of an emotional challenge as his older brother Dre serves time back home in Texas for his supposed involvement in a murder.
It was rocky from the beginning for Harrison a season ago. He was benched for the second of the Red Storm's two exhibition games in November. Behavior was a well-documented issue.
It was all often forgotten as Harrison became the Johnnies leading scorer, catapulting them to a winning conference record in mid-February. They were on the map for an NCAA Tournament bid and the sophomore's theatrics were a big reason why.
Yet after a 6-point, 1-for-12 performance in a marquee home game against Pittsburgh, Harrison found himself suspended for the remainder of the year. His declining attitude had become too much of a burden for the scuffling Johnnies.
He left the team and there wasn't any assurance he'd ever return. Harrison had hit rock bottom.
Fast forward to almost six months later. Harrison sat in the media room in Taffner Fieldhouse on the St. John's campus on Thursday, at a table alongside teammates Phil Greene IV and Orlando Sanchez. For the first time since embarrassing himself and his team, Harrison insisted to the world that he is now a 'different person.'
"I feel like I'm wanted again," Harrison said. "I've talked to the team and the staff. I've done everything right."
It's been a long road back since leaving the team in March. Harrison promised Steve Lavin he would make a commitment to return to the Red Storm and went back home to Houston to take part in John Lucas' wellness program. Daily yoga and anger management sessions helped Harrison get back on track.
"I'm in a better place [now]," Harrison mentioned. "I got to see my brother a lot and had a really productive June."
It didn't take long for Harrison to realize his importance to these Johnnies. An essential piece to the Red Storm's projected success in 2013-14, the guard will compete with defending Big East Rookie of the Year JaKarr Sampson to be the team's most lethal offensive threat.
"I can say [D'Angelo] came back a better person," Sampson said of Harrison's return to St. John's. "I get a different vibe from him. We've got to make this work this year."
It will certainly be an important season for many at St. John's. Harrison will seek to regain his footing atop the league's leading scorers' list. Sampson will join him, perhaps in hopes of developing an attractive NBA resume. And maybe even for Lavin, who may need a second tournament appearance with the Storm to silence critics come March.
But having D'Angelo Harrison back in red and white is the first step. At the very least, the junior wants to stay true to his promise he made to his head coach six months ago:
...to win big at St. John's.
**Credit for quotes: Lenn Robbins, New York Post
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- St. John's releases details of two-week Europe tour through France, Italy and Spain
- A short history of new assistant coach Jim Whitesell - and his Steve Lavin connection
- What's the connection behind St. John's & Wisconsin playing in South Dakota?