Jaden Hardy is arguably the top scoring guard in the class of 2021, and after learning who he models his game after, it’s easy to understand why.
On Friday evening, ESPN traveled to Henderson, NV to broadcast the highly-anticipated matchup between Coronado High School and Bishop Gorman High School on ESPNU.
And as part of the broadcast festivities, ESPN’s Paul Biancardi asked the nation’s No. 5 overall prospect a series of questions in an “On The Clock” segment to learn more about his game, his personality, and what he’s like off the basketball floor.
When asked about who he modeled his game after, the five-star guard – widely seen as a heavy Kentucky lean – threw out a familiar name to the Big Blue Nation.
“I model my game after James Harden and Devin Booker,” he said. “I watch them a lot and like the way their games are.”
Check out the segment:
— Paul Biancardi (@PaulBiancardi) January 25, 2020
At the Tarkanian Classic out in Las Vegas, Hardy told KSR that Kentucky was one of the schools recruiting him the hardest, adding that he is already penciling in Lexington as one of his official visit destinations.
“Yeah, Kentucky is recruiting me really hard,” Hardy said. “I hope to take an official there, for sure.”
When the Wildcats traveled out to Vegas to take on Utah and Ohio State back in December, they took a pit stop to Hardy’s school, Coronado High School, for a pregame practice session. While Kentucky practiced, Hardy stayed after his own practice with his father and head coach to watch Kentucky in action.
From start to finish, the UK target paid close attention.
“That was really nice, just to see how they run in practice, how they function,” Hardy told KSR. “And just being able to see, like, those guys [in action]. I played against those guys [in high school and playing on the AAU circuit], so to be able to see those guys again, connect with them again, talk to them about the season, it’s nice.”
In terms of his relationship with the Kentucky coaching staff, the five-star guard said UK assistant Joel Justus has done a phenomenal job as his lead recruiter.
“It’s real nice, the coach that texts me the most often is Joel [Justus],” Hardy told KSR. “I’m really close with him, he always texts me to check up on me and see how I’m doing.”
Regarding Kentucky’s specific pitch and how they are hoping to use him in Lexington, Hardy said the UK coaching staff sees him as an instant-impact shooter.
“They say that their best shooters shoot the ball, and they see me as a shooter,” Hardy said. “They think I can come in there and make an impact right away.”
Speaking of shooting, this weekend, Hardy put together one of the most ridiculous stat-lines you will ever see, finishing with 62 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, five blocks, and four steals in a 21-point comeback victory.
Take a look at the highlights from the win:
On the year, Hardy is now averaging a ridiculous 34.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 9.4 assists per contest for Coronado.
“Very good size for combo guard with long arms and plus athleticism,” Josh Gershon of 247Sports said of Hardy in his official player evaluation. “Impressive projectable frame with plenty of room to gain strength. Extremely versatile playmaker who can create for teammates or himself. Relatively efficient scorer from all three levels. Impressive ball skills and vision. Has size, length and lateral quickness to guard both one and two. Has been on consistent upward trajectory since arriving in high school. Can still improve jumper and scoring package. Will need to improve assist/turnover ratio to hit upside as a primary ball-handler. Easy elite prospect at this stage who currently projects as first round pick with lottery upside if he continues on same path.”
To say Hardy is a priority for Kentucky in the class of 2021 would be an understatement. At 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, the No. 1 ranked combo guard and prolific scorer is among John Calipari’s favorite prospects in the junior class, with the staff seeing him as a massive foundational piece in the school’s 2021 recruiting class.
Come on down.