Jaden Hardy has kept a close eye on the NBA G-League.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound combo guard from Las Vegas, Nevada is going pro, and he used this season to get a feel for the path.
He can certainly excel at that level. He's as good a scorer as they come with a smooth jump shot. This prolific skill set made him one of the best players in high school basketball.
Hardy was linked to several top college basketball programs, but he passed over all of them in favor of the professional route.
When he steps on the floor next year, one thing is certain: Hardy is a gamer.
Jaden Hardy Highlights
Hardy can score at all three levels. He's dynamic on the way to the rim — changing speeds and using strength to clear a path. The point guard/shooting guard is a creative finisher with either hand. He uses his body as a shield and is able to put some English on the ball to convert at difficult angles.
In transition, Hardy is a high-flyer. He'll zoom ahead of the pack to throw down powerful slams.
The Henderson, NV native and 2021 McDonald's All-American has one of the prettiest shots I've seen from a high school player. He keeps the elbow tight, feet square, and fluidly goes through his motion. Hardy can create a jumper in any situation: off the dribble, in transition, and off the catch. He shoots with soft touch, beautiful rotation and is particularly skillful at finding openings as a spot-up shooter.
As a lead guard, Hardy is a playmaker and has good court vision. He can set up defenders and find open teammates. He'll need to tighten up the handle as he progresses. I believe Hardy would maximize his abilities playing off the ball.
Overall, the combo guard plays with swagger and confidence.
Jaden Hardy Basketball Recruiting
The Coronado High School guard is the third-ranked recruit in the Class of 2021, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings, and second according to ESPN. He's one spot behind Gonzaga commit Chet Holmgren.
Hardy had scholarship offers from Kentucky, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Georgetown, Georgia, Illinois, Memphis, Michigan, Texas Tech, Cal, Florida State, Georgia Tech, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rutgers, San Diego State, TCU, UNLV, USC, Vanderbilt, and Washington.
Top 12?? pic.twitter.com/INAagFKFCC
— JHardy (@JadenHardy1) April 17, 2020
The hooper announced his top 12 on social media in April 2020. Arizona, Arizona State, Georgia, UCLA, Texas Tech, Georgetown, Oregon, Kentucky, Michigan, Memphis, Kansas, and Illinois made the cut.
The five-star basketball recruit was monitoring players who made the jump from high school to the G League during his senior season. Per Rivals:
"I just want to see how [the G League] is and how this first year goes for all the top players that chose that route like Jalen Green and Daishen Nix. I'll be asking them about how they like the team and the coaching staff and just get their feedback on the whole process before going to the NBA. I don't know a lot about it, but it's something that I'm definitely going to look into and keep an eye on."
Green has publicly praised the decision to go pro. He told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog that his experience taught him to be a professional.
"If you want to learn how to become a pro and you're ultimate goal is to get to the league, then I think this would be the best choice for you, especially if you want to learn more and just get the knowledge of the game," said Green.
Hardy is the third-ranked prospect in the 2022 NBA Draft according to NBA Draft Room.
247Sports' Crystal Ball previously had Hardy evenly split between the Kentucky Wildcats and the G-League. Eric Bossi—247Sports' National Basketball Director—predicted he would turn pro in February 2021.
Hardy never trimmed the top-12 list following the initial announcement, indicating he was passing on college.
Jaden Hardy Signs With G-League Ignite
UPDATE (May 18, 2021): It's come as little surprise that top-five recruit Jaden Hardy announced he is skipping college and signing with the G-League Ignite next season.
You can bet Hardy will intently watch the NBA playoffs to gauge future competition.
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