OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd easily cruised to a 71-30 playoff win over Concord (Calif.) on Wednesday, led by 2018 point guard Elijah Hardy, who scored nine points and dished out 10 assists on a night where he Dragons coughed up 16 turnovers, but still allowed just 13 points after halftime.
"That's just part of us growing up," Hardy said. "We shouldn't have that many turnovers."
Hardy has worked hard on his shot -- the only true weakness in his game -- over the last year, putting up upwards of 500 shots per day from the end of last February to the start of this season, and it's paid off. While his scoring isn't the main attraction, the California point guard target has markedly improved, both from beyond the arc, and in the mid-range game.
"Coach Lou [Richie] has had me on the shooting machine, and I worked with KP [Kelvin Potts] all summer on my shot just getting it consistent," said Hardy. "I've been in the gym with coach Lou in the summer -- late nights and early mornings -- with the shooting machine. I still need to get a better shot, get better rotation on my shots. Lately, I've been slacking, so it hasn't been every day, but when I started, it was every day."
He still said that it hasn't been enough, but Hardy and the Dragons are 18-9, with a second-round NCS Division 2 game set for Friday against Redwood (Calif.) Larkspur, and a potential third-round date with another local power -- Hayward (Calif.) Moreau Catholic looming, should Bishop O'Dowd dispatch the Giants. The Mariners bounced the Dragons, 90-59, in the semifinals of last year's Division 3 playoffs.
"They're a great team. They got us last year," Hardy said. "We're just looking forward to going far in the playoffs, and just playing whoever is in front of us."
Had the Dragons shot a shade better on Wednesday -- wing Naseem Gaskin only had three points (all on free throws) -- Hardy could have easily had 15 assists, which is the main attraction when it comes to his game.
The four-star Hardy currently has seven offers he's considering, including the nearby Bears, but there are some new contenders.
"I've been talking to USC a lot, Cal, Santa Clara, Nevada, San Jose State, and a few other schools, but those are the main ones I've been talking to," Hardy said. "I've got some new interest, but I'm interested in any coach that wants to talk to me."
Hardy has a 3.0 GPA that's trending upwards, and he's made several unofficial visits to the Berkeley campus. He, Gaskin and other Dragons are expected to be on campus on Wednesday, when Cal takes on No. 6 Oregon. The Wolf Pack, Bears, Trojans and Spartans are speaking with Hardy the most.
"I've had brief phone calls with each and every coach, and I haven't taken any visits or really looked in to any schools, and I really like all the schools, what they have to offer," Hardy said. "I like the coaching staffs on every team, but it's just going to come down to who has the best academics, and who I fit in well with."
Gaskin said he'll start setting up official visits soon, with his parents, but he's focused on getting through the playoffs, first.