Dwight Hardy (and Daly Dose superfan Quinn Rochford for that matter) will need to find the Italian translation for "ball screen" in the immediate future.
That's because Hardy, yet another integral part of St. John's return to the NCAA Tournament after a nine-year hiatus, has become the second Red Storm player in the young Steve Lavin era to trade in his red and white colors for a professional jersey; providing further evidence that the miracle run put together by the Johnnies and their ten recently-graduated seniors continues to resonate far away from the corner of Union and Utopia. Hardy's signing with the Italian club Pistoia Basket comes just a few days after backcourt partner Paris Horne became the first Lavin product (and first Norm Roberts product, too) to take his talents to the next level when the versatile guard signed with BG Gottingen of the German Bundesliga. For the Bronx native, the decision to sign with Pistoia Basket, located just outside the historic city of Florence, was made with much more important and unselfish factors than his own success in mind.
“The first thing I want to do is get my mom out of the projects,” said Hardy, whose mother still calls the Bronx apartment building where Hardy was raised home. “That’s all I think about when I’m working out or doing anything with basketball, just provide a better life for my family.”
Hardy won the Big East’s Most Improved Player award this past season while, leading the Red Storm (21-12 in 2010-11) in scoring with an average of 18.3 points per game. He was also considered a Player of the Year candidate in the conference, an honor that was eventually bestowed upon Notre Dame’s Ben Hansbrough. Hardy posted fourteen 20-point games last season, including four games in which he eclipsed the 30-point mark.
Head coach Steve Lavin has yet to comment on this momentous occasion, but fans of the Johnnies can rest assured that the charismatic head man will have nothing but positive things to say about the player that, arguably, had the best breakout season of any player in the country.