Devon Hardin, 6-9 JR PF, Newark (Calif.) Memorial, is a very intriguing prospect who came to Southern California this week to take a couple of unofficial visits and play in the Rockfish Spring League.
Hardin, who averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and about 8 blocked shots a game for Memorial this last season, is probably one of the top five or so power forward prospects in the junior class on the west coast, even though he's still very raw. He has an NBA-ready body, with about 225 pounds of well-cut muscle. And the key is, he uses his muscle - he has a clue how to play physically and use his strength in the post. He has very good hops, and is still getting control of his body. He has fairly good feet and moves pretty well laterally. So, physically and athletically, he has the makings of a high major prospect. His skill development is the primary aspect of his game that would potentially hold him back from being considered an elite high major. Relying on his strength and athleticism, he's already a good shot blocker and a solid rebounder. But he hasn't learned how to play offensively in the post, with a limited feel for the game offensively and an awkward shooting motion.
But his body and athleticism alone make him a prospect that the high majors on the west coast - and nationally - will have to consider seriously.
When we spoke with him Saturday, he proved to be a smart, pleasant kid, and he said he's already thinking seriously about the schools he's considering.
When asked if he had an early favorite, he was a bit hesitant to say, but said, "It might be Cal. If I add up all the things I'm considering as factors, Cal might be the best. But I wouldn't want to say that I have a leader at this time."
He said that the Pac-10 schools he's visited unofficially so far - Cal, Stanford, UCLA and USC - probably make up his short list, along with possibly Arizona and Kansas. He said, so far, that he's been offered by Cal, USC and Utah.
His childhood favorite he said was UCLA. "It's always been UCLA. When I was growing up, that's where I dreamed of going. Then when you get older, you have to consider real factors, and just not your dream."
When asked how critical the naming of UCLA's new coach would be in his decision, Hardin said, "Really big. I mean, right now, there's no one there to talk to there. I visited there when (Steve) Lavin was still the coach. So, UCLA is a big question for me. If they get the right type of coach that could change everything. I've heard that one of the candidates is the Gonzaga coach (Mark Few), and I really like him."
When asked about the factors that would be significant in his decision, Hardin said, "Facilities and the environment will be big. I visited UCLA, and it seemed to have the best facilities and environment. I'm really going to look at coaching. And I'm looking for academics. That's why, right now, Cal might have everything among those factors. So, right now, Cal might be pretty high right now. But when it comes to coaching, I still like Henry Bibby at USC. I think he has what it takes to get players to the next level."
On official visits, Hardin said he has a plan to visit Cal next month. "I also would like to visit USC, and maybe Arizona or Kansas before the summer."
Hardin said he has a 3.57 GPA. He took the SAT as a sophomore, and said he took it as a lark to see how he'd do, and scored a 1070. "But I'm going to improve on that score, definitely," he said.