2022 Draft Watch: First Look at Jaden Hardy

May 5th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Jaden Hardy is a 6-4 scoring guard that projects to be a top 5 pick in the 2022 draft. He is a very athletic scorer that can make shots from anywhere on the court, and he also has some playmaking and defensive skills.  It was hard to find full game footage of him playing in a high school game, so I decided to watch him play for Coronado against Modesto Christian in a January 25th, 2020 basketball game, with thanks to YouTube via The Grind Session.  Hardy had a relatively slow start, but he ended playing extremely well, as he excelled as a shooter and scorer, and he was scoring points at will.  Here are my thoughts on how Hardy fared, as well as where he may stack up as a prospect for the NBA.

Jaden Hardy is a very athletic, versatile scorer whose strong shooting and scoring skills may make him a very good bet to go in the top 5 in the 2022 draft.
(Photo:
Wade Vandervort/Las Vegas Sun)

6-4 incoming freshman guard, Jaden Hardy played very well to help lead Coronado to a comeback win over Modesto Christian.  He showed a knack for shooting and scoring the basketball, and he also was active as a help defender in this game. Hardy did a great job of knocking down threes to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He would use crossover moves and dribble off screens to effortlessly knock down pull-up threes from beyond the arc, and he can make them from way out.  He really excelled at making three-pointers to show off his sharpshooting prowess, and he also was able to make a spot-up three off the catch.  He also drew three free throws when hoisting up a pull-up three another time.  On the downside, he struggled to make pull-up jumpers, as he would tend to take tough, off-balanced jumpers, but he showed a real knack for making pull-up three-point shots.

He also excelled at scoring on strong drives to the basket.  He has a solid first step to the hoop, and he has good strength and hangtime to be able to regularly finish plays around the basket.  He can finish plays using either hand.  He was able to score on an acrobatic, underhanded layup, and he also used a spin move to score in traffic.  He also would draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.  He also posted up and lowered a shoulder to use a spin move to score on a floater. Plus, he also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Hardy would score on speedy drives on the break, and he also managed to throw down a thunderous dunk in transition.  He also managed to score on a quick, tip-in after grabbing an offensive board.

Also, he displayed perhaps adequate playmaking skills.  Hardy plays with a heavy, score-first mindset, but he also can operate as the lead guard in an offense.  He likes to handle the basketball, and he can throw solid interior passes to teammates on the move to set up scores for them.  Hardy can throw solid passes off the dribble, and he also can consistently find cutters.  Plus, he is a fleet-footed guard that can consistently get into the lane to create shots for himself and others.  On the downside, he will tend to over-dribble, which can get him into trouble.  He was called for a double dribble once due to clumsy ball handling, and he also had a ball slip out of his hands to lose it after trying in vain to draw a foul when driving to the hoop.  He also had an odd tendency to drop catchable passes that were thrown to him, and he also would throw inaccurate passes that would go astray. Also, Hardy was able to leap up to get his fair share of rebounds, and he was able to chase down balls to get boards on both ends of the floor.

Hardy also played satisfactory defense in this game.  He was adept at collecting steals, as he has a long reach that enables him to back-tap and swipe balls away from opposing ball handlers to force them to commit a plethora of turnovers.  He also intercepted pass that was thrown right to him, and he also jumped a on loose ball to help his team get another.  He also managed to deflect a pass, and he also would poke balls away other times.  Plus, he would use his length to contest mid-range jumpers, and he also successfully managed to draw a charge to get a stop for his team.  On the downside, he tend to lose focus as he would be caught ball watching, which would lead him to give up too much space to shooters and get beat on cuts, which would allow his opponents to score.  He also would tend to gamble for steals too often, which would lead him to commit reach-in fouls, and to get beat off the dribble, which would put his team in scramble situations.

Overall, Hardy is a very athletic, skilled combo guard that can really shoot and score the basketball.  He put on a very impressive performance, and he played extremely well down the stretch to lead Coronado to a comeback win over Modesto Christian.  He is a very talented prospect that has the potential to be a superstar in the association, and he could end up being a very good player similar to Denver Nuggets’ star guard, Jamal Murray in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Cal State Northridge’s 6-9, soon-to-be sophomore forward, Alex Merkviladze had a decent showing for Modesto Christian in his team’s loss to Coronado.  He showed off versatile scoring skills and he was active as a rebounder and defender, and he also set solid screens, but he also struggled with turnovers in this game. The Republic of Georgia native showed a solid ability to score in the post.  He was able to score on right-handed jump hooks, as well as on a turnaround, fadeaway jumper.  He showed off solid footwork as well the shooting touch and strength to consistently score down low.  He also managed to score on a quick, strong put back after grabbing an offensive rebound.  Merkviladze used a pump fake and a spin move on a drive to the hoop, but he ended up missing badly that time off the glass. Plus, Merkviladze also shot the ball well, especially from downtown.  He would use off-ball movement to get open on offense, and he would then score on quick, spot-up threes off the catch.

On the downside, he was quite turnover prone in this game.  For the positives, Merkviladze would set screens to help his teammates score on open jump shots and drives to the hoop.  He also would throw accurate outlet passes to help set up scores for his teammates on the break.  On the downside, he would sometimes struggle to handle the ball, especially when pressured, and he appeared to be a fairly clumsy ball handler that would get balls poked away, and he also stepped out of bounds to commit turnovers.  Other times, he would throw hasty, inaccurate passes that would go astray. Also, he did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  Merkviladze would leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he would usually push the ball up the floor after leaping up to get his team defensive rebounds.

He also displayed perhaps above average defense.  Merkviladze was able to rotate to block a shot off of a drive to a teammate due to possessing solid timing.  He also poked a ball away from an opponent in the post to nearly get a steal.  He often would contest jumpers to force misses, and he also contested a shot in the post to get another stop for his team.  He also denied an opponent from getting a pass, and he was indirectly able to help force a passing turnover that time.  On the downside, he tended to commit fouls around the basket due to over-aggressiveness.  He also would struggle to guard opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to allow scores to them.

Overall, Alex Merkviladze is a strong, skilled big man that can shoot and score the basketball.  He only possess average athletic gifts, but his ability to score and set screens could make him a prospect to watch in the future.  If things break his way, he could project to be a skilled, stretch big in the NBA sometime down the road.

Coronado’s 6-5 high school senior swingman, Felix Reeves Jr. also played well in his team’s win over Modesto Christian.  He is an athletic, high-motor player that excelled at scoring on hustle plays to help his team in this game. Reeves did a terrific job of scoring in transition.  He would often run the floor to score on fast breaks, and he also caught a lob pass to score on an alley-oop dunk.  He also caught a lob pass off of a backdoor cut to score on an emphatic, alley-oop dunk.  He also managed to draw free throws on a put back.

He also showed a decent ability to score off the dribble.  Reeves used a quick jab step and drove in, and he used a quick hop step to split between two defenders to score on a quick layup.  However, he also missed on a layup short in traffic, and he also missed when trying to post up another time.  He also did not look to take jumpers from outside of the paint area, and he did not appear to take a three-point shot in this game.

Also, Reeves displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  He was able to throw an interior pass to set up a score for a teammate on the break.  He also set an on-ball screen to help get a teammate an open jump shot.  On the downside, there was one play where he didn’t seal his man in the post, which allowed his defender to jump in front of him to intercept his teammate’s pass.  He also could’ve been called for setting a moving screen, but his teammate ended up being called for a carrying violation another time. He also was able to get his fair share of boards in this game.  Reeves was able to chase down balls to get several defensive rebounds, and he also tipped a ball to a teammate to help his team get an offensive board once.

Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, Reeves is an active help defender that can make plays on the ball.   He was able to rotate to block a shot hard in the post out of bounds.  He also jumped on a loose ball to help his team get a steal.  He also brought solid ball pressure alongside a teammate to help force a passing turnover.  He also would contest threes to force misses.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to defend screens and he also would be indecisive in whom to guard at times, which would lead to scramble situations.  He also struggled to defend opponents off the dribble or in the post.

Overall, Felix Reeves is an athletic, energetic swingman that can make solid hustle plays on both ends of the floor.  He seems to be talented enough to play in division 1 NCAA college basketball, but he will need to extend his shooting range, and he will need to improve his outside shot and his defense.  He will likely need time to develop and hone his game, but he could be a prospect to watch in the future.

6-3 high school junior guard, Oziyah Sellers shot the ball well for Modesto Christian in his team’s loss to Coronado.  He excelled at making plays on offense to help his team in this game. Sellers would run the floor and move off the ball to score on a flurry of open corner threes off the catch.  He is a good spot-up shooter that would consistently knock down shots from beyond the arc.  He also scored on a quick backdoor cut to the hoop.  However, he missed on an open layup in transition another time, and he also missed on a pull-up jumper from the mid-range.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Sellers can throw solid passes off the dribble to set up scores for his teammates in transition.  He has solid court vision, and he is a good passer on the break.  However, when handling the ball once, he had it poked away to commit one turnover.  He also threw a pass that his teammate didn’t catch as it went out of bounds another time. Plus, he also was able to chase down balls to get a pair of defensive rebounds.  He also brought solid ball pressure to force an opponent to drop a pass out of bounds.

Overall, Oziyah Sellers is a skilled combo guard that can shoot and pass the basketball.  He is skilled enough to play in division 1 NCAA college basketball.  He will need to prove that he can consistently play well at higher levels, but he could be a prospect to keep tabs on sometime down the road.

Coronado’s 6-5 high school senior swingman, Tyrell Hunt played fairly well in his team’s win over Modesto Christian.  He primarily excelled as an interior player.  He would score on put backs, and he also excelled at grabbing rebounds, but he also showed the ability to knock down mid-range jumpers.

Hunt did a good job of scoring on quick put backs off of offensive rebounds.  He also managed to score in the post as well as off of a left-handed drive to the hoop.  He also showed an adequate ability to knock down pull-up jumpers from the mid-range, though he tended to take too many of them in this game.  Unfortunately, he did not attempt a single three-point shot from beyond the arc. Also, he did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  Hunt was able to leap up to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor.

Defensively, Hunt displayed adequate defensive skills.  He would poke balls away to get steals and deflections, and he also would contest threes to force misses.  Sometimes though, he would sag too far off of shooters and be late on his rotations, which would allow opponents to score on jumpers.  He also didn’t show any resistance when defending in the post as he gave up on a play, which led his teammate to contest the shot instead, but his team still allowed the basket that time.

Overall, Hunt is a fairly athletic, physical swingman that played fairly well in his team’s win over Modesto Christian.  He will need to extend his shooting range and improve his three-point shot and playmaking skills.  He will need time to hone his game, but if so, he could be a prospect to watch in the future.

Modesto Christian’s 6-8 high school senior forward, Chris Fan played fairly well in his team’s loss to Coronado.  He didn’t take many shots, but he was efficient as a scorer on offense, and he also was active at making plays on both ends of the floor.  He’s a versatile player that can do a little bit of everything in this game. Fan excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He would run the floor to often score in transition, and he also scored on a give and go layup once.  Plus, he also drove to the right to score on a mid-range floater.   He didn’t take a three-point shot in this game.  He had appeared to miss completely on a three-point shot, but that didn’t count, as his teammate had set a moving screen prior to that.

Also, Fan displayed satisfactory playmaking skills in this game.  He is an unselfish player that can throw good passes off the dribble, and he was able to kick balls out to shooters to rack up a pair of assists.  He also was able to pass out of the post, as he threw a quick shovel pass to find a teammate around the basket.  However, he can tend to struggle to handle the ball when pressured.  On one occasion, he was doubled and pressured near the corner of a sideline, as he was forced to call timeout that time.  He also drove to the hoop on another play, but was called for a charging foul, as he would’ve scored on a layup had an offensive foul not be called on him.

Plus, he also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Fan would leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he would sometimes quickly bring the ball up the floor after getting his team defensive rebounds.  He also managed to tip a ball to a teammate to help his team get a defensive board.

He also played adequate defense in this game.  He is an active help defender that will aggressively look to make plays on the defensive end.  He used his length and footwork to pressure an opposing ball handler to indirectly force a passing turnover.  He also would contest mid-range jumpers to force misses.  He also managed to alter a shot off of a drive to force another miss.  Fan also appeared to block shots and to poke a ball away to get a steal, but he instead ended up being called for fouls on those occasions.  On the downside, he would sometimes struggle to defend quicker ball handlers off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Another time, he was in the area to rotate to an opponent around the basket, but he didn’t contest the shot as his team allowed the score in transition.

Overall, Chris Fan is a skilled swingman that has the ability to play a multiple of positions on the court.  He will likely need to extend his shooting range and improve his three-point shot, but his versatility and skill set could enable him to play in Division 1 NCAA college basketball.  If he continues to develop and hone his game over time, he could be a prospect to watch someday.

UC San Diego’s 5-9 incoming freshman point guard, Michael Pearson had his ups and downs for Modesto Christian in his team’s loss to Coronado.  He is an agile, skilled playmaker that can make plays on both ends of the floor, but he also struggled with his jump shot in this game. Pearson showed an adequate ability to score off the dribble.  He would tend to score on quick, right-handed drives to the hoop, and he tended to favor going to his right to score at the rim.  He would sometimes miss though, as he can sometimes take rushed, off-balanced shots that would lead to misses.

He also dribbled left off of a screen to score on a mid-range floater, while also drawing an extra free throw afterwards.  Pearson also was able to pull up to make threes off the dribble.  However, he also missed on plenty of three-point shots, and sometimes he would take off-balanced jumpers due to trying unsuccessfully to draw fouls on those occasions.

Also, Pearson displayed solid playmaking skills.  He is a quick guard that can consistently get into the lane, and he throws solid passes off the dribble, as he can find teammates in transition to set up scores for them.  He especially passes the ball well on fast breaks.  On the downside, he can sometimes play too fast and out of control, which would lead him to commit ball-handling turnovers. Additionally, he did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Pearson was able to leap up to get plenty of defensive boards, and he would usually push the ball up the court afterwards.

He also played perhaps fairly average defense in this game.  Pearson was able to deflect a pass and run down a ball to get it in order to get a steal.  He also applied solid ball pressure to help indirectly force a ball-handling turnover.  On the downside, he struggled to defend taller, stronger opponents, which would lead him to allow scores.  He also rotated but got beat off the dribble, which forced a teammate to rotate to commit a foul another time. Overall, Michael Pearson is an athletic, skilled playmaker that can reliably run a team at the point, and he consistently was able to generate shots for his himself and others.  He will need to be a more consistent shooter, and he will need to show that he can consistently guard taller, more athletic opponents in games.  If he can continue to develop and hone his game, he could perhaps be able to carve out a playing career in professional basketball someday.

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