LAS VEGAS -- 2018 Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O’Dowd point guard Elijah Hardy has had to grow up quickly.
When Boise State-bound senior Paris Austin went down with injury late in the Dragons’ regular season, it was then-freshman Hardy who had to step in and start four games. While his shooting game isn’t at the level of Austin – he’s very much a pass-first point – he wowed coaches and scouts with how mature his game was.
When one of the older point guards on his 16U AAU team – Team Arsenal – went down, it was once again Hardy who was tapped as the floor general. He heated up during the second week of July, going 9-of-25 from the field in his final two games, tallying six rebounds and 24 points with 10 assists, but during the adidas Uprising in Las Vegas, his shooting touch left him. At this point, Hardy is still a facilitator, but the key is that his extended time on the floor has allowed him to learn his own weaknesses.
“I for sure want to work on that, because last weekend, I was hot, and this weekend, I went on a drought,” Hardy said after Team Arsenal was eliminated in Las Vegas. “I want to work on consistency with my jumper, always have the same follow-through every time, but that’s something I’m working on. That’s a flaw in my game. Other stuff – getting stronger – I just have to get better.”
Having been Austin’s understudy certainly helped in that regard. Next year, it’ll be him running the point for Lou Richie and O’Dowd, but he’s not feeling the pressure, despite this year’s win in the Open Division final at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley.
“Not at all. I think I learned a lot last year, just being a team player. I think I’m ready,” Hardy says. “It prepared me a lot, just to see how it’s going to be. Just watching him on the court prepared me mentally. I know that I’m good enough to play at this level, so that helped me a lot.”
Hardy already has offers from California, Montana, Nevada and New Mexico State, with interest from Kansas, Notre Dame and “a couple others,” he says. The offer from the Bears is intriguing, in part because he’s already played on their home floor, and also because his 2015 teammate – five-star Ivan Rabb -- chose Cal over a host of other elite offers.
“They just got a great recruiting class, and that helped a lot, for more people to go there, and I really like that school,” Hardy says. “I like their environment. That would definitely be in my top schools.”