The Philadelphia 76ers announced tonight that they have selected swingman Maurice Harkless with the 15th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Harkless was an early entry candidate for the draft following his freshman season at St. John’s.

Harkless (6-8, 208) was named Big East Rookie of the Year after averaging 15.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks while shooting 45.2% from the floor.  He ranked sixth in the nation in scoring among freshman and second in rebounding.

The freshman started all 32 games for the Red Storm last season, scoring in double-figures 26 times, including seven games with 20-plus points.  Harkless had a career-high 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting vs.Providence and tallied 30 points and 13 rebounds at Duke.  Overall, he recorded 11 double-doubles.

Harkless, who turned 19 last month, is from New York City and spent his senior year of high school at South Kent in Connecticut.  As a senior, he averaged 27.2 points, 13.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 3.1 blocks and 1.6 steals.  Harkless earned Most Valuable Player honors at the 2011 Kobe Bryant Classic held inPhiladelphia.

My Take: While I am disappointed with this pick, I have seen a lot of Markless play in the Big East where he was the freshman of the year. Harkless stands 6'8" with a 7'2" wingspan, and he gives could give the Sixers a replacement for Andre Iguodala when his contract expires in two years.

While I don't see him making to much of an impact as a rookie behind similar players like Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young. Harkless could use this season to develop into a power forward by get stronger or to become a small forward by tighten up his ball-handling, and increasing his shooting range.

Best-case here is that he becomes a power forward and uses his athleticism to become a match-up problem down the road.