Gonzaga's Search for Big Men: DeVon Hardin

Gonzaga's season climaxed and ended less than a week ago, but there's next year and the year after next to think about if the program is going to continue to rise. GU's coaches are all over some highly regarded bigs to replace Zach, Cory and Richard. Meet the Bay Area's DeVon Hardin.

DeVon Hardin was born in Long Beach, CA, but growing up he lived literally all across America, from coast to coast, north to south. During that time the athletic kid with all kinds of talent tried his hand at such sports as hockey and track, specializing in the Long Jump, High Jump, Hurdles, Triple Jump and sprint relays. Oh, he'd pick up a basketball once in a while but it was no big deal to him as a youngster. In fact, his father really had to get on DeVon just to get him to play.

What a difference a few years and several inches make.

"I was awful," the 6'10" Hardin laughed, recalling his freshman year and the first time he seriously took up basketball. But with an NBA-type body and a solid 240 pounds already on his frame, he was a natural and his improvement as a post player has been steady, if not meteoric. DeVon knows he needs to improve (especially on offense) and he is ready to put in the long hours that will ultimately lead him to be the best he can be and to a full scholarship to the college of his choice.

DeVon says his growth spurt came during his eight- and ninth-grade, growing four inches in one summer. He claims that he's about done growing, barring an unforeseen spurt, and is just slightly less than 6'10". He expects to top out at a legit 6'10".

His NBA idol is Kevin Garnett but admits he can only dunk like KG so far. He wants to be able to handle the rock better and develop his offensive skills. Defensively is where Hardin shines most at this time, averaging an Emeka Okafor-like 8 blocks per game. He loves to swat shots and had 15 in one game. He likes to score using a drop-step or an up-and-under move. DeVon reports that his ten and fifteen foot jumpers are "very consistent" now. No doubt, he'll have the 3-point shot in his arsenal this time next year.

Speaking of "this time next year…" DeVon Hardin is being recruited by many "name" programs. Besides Gonzaga, Hardin reels off school after school, from Kansas and Arizona to Cal, UCLA, USC and plenty of others. Of course, basketball will figure heavily into his college choice, but not necessarily a winning record. Academics, school atmosphere, location and just how well he fits are factors he mentioned.

DeVon attends Newark Memorial High School in the Bay Area and led them to a 25-5 record. He averaged 16 points per game (after averaging 5 ppg a year before). This summer he'll be playing with the AAU Oakland Soldiers and will be at such tournaments as the Boo Williams, Las Vegas Big Time, adidas ABCD Camp, Mats Madness, Elite Eight, to name just a few.

He enjoys music the most (he played the sax until a few years ago) and takes in movies with his friends. He has thought about Civil Engineering as a college major and his 3.5 GPA and 1050 SAT score bodes well for his goals.

Where does Gonzaga rank with the Kansases and Arizonas to DeVon. "Right up with them."

Not bad for a high school junior who hadn't heard of Gonzaga until he received his first recruiting letter at the beginning of his junior year.

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