Harden Wishes He Was Already Here

The Arizona game wasn't the only reason that excited a gold clad sea of ASU supporters. Seeing Sun Devil signee James Harden in WFA, just 24 hours after the official announcement of being named a 2007 McDonald's All-American, created a buzz of its own. Devils Digest caught up with Harden after the game to talk about the close loss his future team suffered, and the prestigious honor he received.

"I found out about it (being a 2007 McDonald's All-American) at the Nike Extravaganza two weeks ago," said the 6-5 185 James Harden, who stood at the Wells Fargo Arena tunnel dishing out high fives and autographs with ASU fans. "They asked me to keep it quiet until they made the official announcement…I guess I was a little surprised about it, but I had a good summer, I guess that's what people are saying. I'm happy all my hard work paid off."

Harden will join Eric Boateng as the third and fourth Sun Devils to earn the honor. Boateng earned the honor in 2005 and transferred to ASU last spring after playing his freshmen season (2005-2006) at Duke. 2002 Pac-10 Hall of Honor inductee Byron Scott, was the first Sun Devil to earn that honor in 1979, followed by Chris Sandle in 1984.

The shooting guard, who was heavily courted by Arizona, was disappointed to see his future team lose to its archrival on Sunday. "They fought the whole game. They played hard, played tough," he remarked. "Unfortunately we couldn't come away with the win. That's no problem we'll get better at it as the season goes on and it will carry over to next year."

And the 2007-08 season can't come soon enough for Harden. "I was ready to get into the game at halftime," he said with a smile. "We played a good first half, but just couldn't get quality shots in the second half. I just can't wait to come here and play…I know people expect a lot of me next year, but I don't feel any pressure. I'm just gonna play my game and I'll be fine."

Harden's Artesia high school squad is 27-2 on the year and ranked No. 12 nationally by USA Today. Harden scored 25, as the Pioneers beat Long Beach Jordan 83-73 on Friday night to advance to the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section I-AA playoffs. On Tuesday, Artesia will play Dominquez. The winner of the game will play in the championship against the winner of the other semifinal that features Mater Dei and Compton. Artesia, under the direction of current ASU's Director of Basketball Operation Scott Pera, went 33-1 last year en route to the state title last season.

The McDonald's All-American game will take place March 28 at 8 p.m. ET at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky. Harden will play for the west squad. The ASU signee is ranked as Scout.com's top 2007 West Coast shooting guard prospect, as well fourth best in his position nationwide.

Harden leads his team in scoring with 18.1 points per game, and averages eight rebounds (second-best on the team) and 3.6 assists per contest.

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