Five-star Jaden Hardy breaks down schools and G League option
HENDERSON, Nev. -- Five-star shooting guard Jaden Hardy has been staying busy and in the gym since quarantine and had his sights set on Nike’s EYBL circuit before quarantine hit.
“I was really focused on being the No. 1 player in the country this year and proving that on the AAU circuit, but with no EYBL season, I’ve just been in the gym grinding and working every day,” Hardy said.
Hardy is visibly stronger and has a tighter handle from last season. He's a high volume shooter and was a little streaky at times this past season, but his shooting has gotten more consistent and fluid. The biggest improvement to his game, although not as noticeable, is his movement off the ball and his change of speed off the dribble.
"I’ve just been staying in the gym every day and trying to get better during this time. I think my game has improved all the way around since quarantine," Hardy added.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
Ranked No. 5 in the nation, Hardy came out with a top 12 in April with Kentucky, UCLA, Oregon, Arizona, Kansas, Illinois, Memphis, Michigan, Arizona State, Georgia, Georgetown and Texas Tech all making the cut. Below he breaks down a few teams that have made him a priority during this quarantine time.
KENTUCKY: I have a great relationship with them. Really all the coaches have been saying during this time is that I’m one of their top guys they’re focused on right now. They’re saying the ball is going to be in my hands and they put the ball in scorer’s hands, and I’m going to be their scorer. That’s been their pitch to me. I don’t know much about Nolan Hickman but I’ve heard about him as a player through Paolo Banchero and he said he’s a great passer.
OREGON: I’m going to get my brother’s (Amauri Hardy) feedback from how he likes the team since he just transferred there. I’m just going to be in his ear about the campus, the team, the coaching staff, everything. I really like that coaching staff too and have a great relationship with them.
UCLA: I like UCLA a lot. I like Coach (Mick) Cronnin, he recruited my brother when he was at Cincinnati, so that relationship is already there. He’s been telling me he wants to help make me the No. 1 pick and I’m his top priority right now. Coach wants to see me and Peyton Watson play together and I’m really close with Peyton, we talk almost every day. And Peyton’s been trying to recruit me to go there and join him.
ARIZONA: I like Arizona a lot. I’m really close with Jason Terry, so it was great when he joined the coaching staff. I like a lot of the players they got there right now like Dalen Terry, I’m really close with him.
G LEAGUE: I just want to see how it is and how this first year goes for all the top players that chose that route like Jalen Green and Daishen Nix. I’ll be asking them about how they like the team and the coaching staff and just get their feedback on the whole process before going to the NBA. I don’t know a lot about it, but it’s something that I’m definitely going to look into and keep an eye on.
Hardy will play some sort of season at Coronado High School (Henderson, Nev.) There's a "Boarder League" with teams from California, Arizona and Nevada all participating in a series of games during two weekends in late October and early November.
During this time, coaches have been active giving Hardy and his family virtual tours of the campus and trying to stay in contact. Hardy is in no rush and plans to wait until 2021 to make a decision.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be early in the year or late signing period in April. I’m just going to wait it out and when the time feels right, I’m going to commit,” Hardy said.
Kentucky has been the fan favorite for a long time and a lot of recruiting experts still think the Wildcats have the lead. Don't be too quick to rule out UCLA or Arizona. Cronnin was able to land another top player in Watson and is clearly trying to build something special out in Los Angeles. Arizona’s hire of Jason Terry is also a big factor for Hardy’s recruitment and staying in the Pac-12 and closer to home is intriguing. The G League is also another viable option and it will be interesting to see how it helps top guys like Green and Jonathan Kuminga in the draft next year.