Prior to this season, not many knew about the current St. John's team and its talented seniors. Although they work extremely well as a team, the one person that stands out is point guard Dwight Hardy.
Coming out of John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx, Hardy has blossomed under the new leadership of Steve Lavin. Because of his dominance on the court, the Red Storm are now ranked 23rd in the AP rankings and he is now a top prospect in the upcoming NBA draft. Here is why he will be a great weapon in the NBA.
Hardy's stats support the statement that he is a talented player. Playing in the Big East is not easy; each team is a threat with many talented players (it is likely that 11 teams will make the NCAA tournament this year). He has demonstrated his ability to be a great player when he and the Red Storm upset the Connecticut Huskies. He was able to carry the team as he scored a career-high 33 points with three assists and a steal.
His infusion of on-court skills with mental toughness is a trait that will help Hardy in the future. His ability to be clutch for the Red Storm is spectacular—his free-throw percentage is at 86.4 percent. Although the majority of his made free throws came during parts of the game that don't require him to be clutch, the fact that he has attempted over 140 free throws thus far and has made over 85 percent of them allows coaches to trust in his ability to make clutch free throws.
Against Pittsburgh, the Red Storm had trouble scoring field goals toward the end of the game, what kept them in it till the very end were free throws and head coach Steve Lavin would not be as worried with a shooter like Hardy on the free-throw line. In the very same game, St. John's was down by one with 12 seconds to go and the ball went to Hardy for what would be the final play. He was able to drive under the basket, avoid going out of bounds and make a reverse layup with 1.2 seconds left in the game, which St. John's won.
Not only can Hardy be used as a weapon on offense, his defense is above average. His statistics say that he averages 1.5 steals per game but his statistics are a classic case of "don't judge a book by its cover." In Lavin's defense it is focused on putting pressure on opposing offenses in the backcourt and frontcourt. Hardy does a great job of being able to put pressure on opponents by moving his feet and keeping his hands up. What this does is produce steal opportunities for his teammates, which lead to easy scores, which help win games and make head coaches happy.
All in all, Dwight Hardy is a skilled player. With the spotlight beginning to shine on him due to him being considered as Big East Player of the Year, expect to see him move up in mock drafts and to be included amongst the top point guards as the postseason and offseason near.