QUEENS, N.Y. (Nov. 13, 2008) - Just three years ago, Dwight Hardy was a senior standout on the hardwood at John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx, hoping to receive an offer from St. John's University.
St. John's and the University of Illinois had both expressed their interest in the long-range sharpshooter and dynamic scorer, but though he certainly could fill up the stat sheet, Hardy didn't yet have the grades. As a senior, Hardy averaged a striking 39.0 points per game along with 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Despite leading the team to a PSAL title game in 2005, it would be Hardy's determination, not his high school stats that would help him arrive to his current situation - ready to help the Red Storm men's basketball team make a jump in the BIG EAST Conference.
Hardy would spend a year of preparation at the Patterson School (N.C.), before joining the Indian Hills Community College team in Iowa for two seasons. At Indian Hills, Hardy amassed over 1,000 points in just two years and earned back to back selections to the National Junior College Athletic Association's (NJCAA) all-region first team. During his sophomore season, he averaged 18.9 points per game while leading Indian Hills to a 30-3 record. He left the school as the single-season and career leader in 3 point field goals and attempts.
In November of last year, Hardy received the opportunity he had wanted since graduating high school, and landed a spot on the St. John's Red Storm's roster. Hardy is one of four newcomers for the Storm that is expected to contribute immediately.
"Dwight is going to be an immediate impact guy for us," said STJ head coach Norm Roberts. "He's able to do an assortment of different things, shoot the basketball, score, make the pass, and defend which makes him a real complete player."
Roberts added that Hardy is expected to play quite a bit for the Red Storm, and can see time at both the point guard position and at shooting guard. Roberts acknowledges Hardy's previous coaches in high school and at the JUCO level for preparing him properly to play at the Division 1 level.
"He's acclimated very well to major Division I college basketball," said Roberts. "It's very rare that he takes a bad shot," said Roberts, "He is always thinking team first, and he wants to do whatever it takes to win."
With the Red Storm sporting a plethora of guards for the upcoming season, Hardy's knack for scoring should help the Storm immensely after finishing 13th in the conference in scoring offense last season.
Hardy brings a winning attitude to the Red Storm, after achieving an immense amount of success prior to landing in Queens.
"Now that I'm at the big stage finally I'm anxious to see what I'm going to do," said Hardy, prior to his first Division I game against LIU on Friday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. "Coming here I didn't think my role would be to score as much, but coach really wants me to be aggressive, and I prefer that role."
The Red Storm finished 13th in the conference last season in 3-point field goal percentage and 12th in the overall field goal percentage category. Hardy will look to assist the team in those areas, especially.
With offense being so natural to the 6-2 junior, his defense has been what he has had to really work on in practice while at St. John's. Hardy said that he has also improved on his quickness and not hesitating with his shot.
It's taken Hardy three years to return back to his home state of New York to be where he's wanted to be all along. He hasn't forgotten where he came from, and even while playing at the JUCO level, Hardy would come back during the summers to play in the outdoor summer leagues. It was on the blacktop courts that Hardy would earn the nickname "D-Buckets," for doing what he does best - scoring in bunches.
Hardy's aggressiveness and passion to play for his home town team has been something many analysts believe the St. John's program has needed. Hardy is one of the latest top-caliber NYC players to choose to attend St. John's, helping to comprise a four-man recruiting class that boasts three New Yorkers.
"Since I'm from New York, I'm going to love playing in front of my family and friends," said Hardy. "Watching the team over the years, I thought that I could come in and provide what they needed."
Having committed since last year, and with two years of eligibility left in Division I play, Hardy's anxiousness will be satisfied tonight when the Red Storm open their season against LIU.
"It's been a real journey at this point, said Hardy. "I'm just ready to go now."