Status: UK target
Shooting guard | 6-4 | 190
School: Coronado (Nev.)
Hardy is regarded as the best shooting guard prospect in the 2021 class, and Kentucky pounced on his recruitment with an early scholarship offer. The Cats appear to be well-positioned for the talented scorer going into his senior season.
John Calipari made the trip to Nevada to visit with Hardy early in the fall recruiting period, a time when the UK coach was still hard at work on targets for his 2020 class.
“When Coach Calipari walks in a gym and comes to see a kid like Jaden — I can honestly tell you, it meant the world to him,” his high school coach, Jeff Kaufman, told the Herald-Leader. “It was something that he takes very serious. And something that he really wanted and something that he’s been working for. It’s an offer, but — for these kids — it’s a big accomplishment. He was very humbled. He was very respectful. He was excited that Coach came to see him in person.”
Hardy is the type of versatile perimeter scorer that Calipari covets, and his coach told the Herald-Leader that he would have visited UK for Big Blue Madness if that event hadn’t conflicted with USA Basketball’s annual October minicamp. Still, Hardy is likely to make it to Lexington later in his recruitment, and Calipari has clearly made him one of Kentucky’s top recruiting priorities as he looks to add some scoring punch to the 2021 class.
Hardy averaged 30.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game and earned MaxPreps.com first-team junior All-American honors. He had several high-scoring games, including a 62-point performance in which he rallied his team from a 21-point deficit.
“Jaden Hardy is the top shooting guard in that class, and it’s hard to make an argument for who else is elite at the ‘2’ guard spot. I think Kentucky realizes that. I think they understand, ‘Hey, we need to get going on Jaden Hardy, because if we miss …’ If they miss on a guy like Hardy, where do they go at the ‘2’ guard spot a year or two from now?”
-Recruiting analyst Corey Evans