By Joseph Staszewski
Dwight Hardy is reminded of his magical senior season at St. John’s whenever he returns home to New York City, even as his career has moved on to bigger and better things.
“They tweet me, they send me pictures on Instagram about that year,” Hardy said. “They say it is one of the years that put St. John’s back.”
The Bronx native averaged 18 points per game during his senior season and hit a dramatic game-winning shot against then No. 3 Pittsburgh in 2010. Hardy helped the Red Storm reach its first NCAA tournament since 2002 on one of the more embraced teams in the program’s recent history. It is the club that started the program on its upward swing—including an NCAA appearance last season.
“They are getting great recognition now,” Hardy said. “We always look back to that year as the start of it.”
He believes new coach Chris Mullin is only going to build off the foundation that the team has laid in Queens.
“He’s a great legend,” Hardy said. “I know he knows a lot about the Big East. He’s going to recruit some great players. I think they will make some noise this year.”
Hardy was hoping to make some waves of his own this summer along with former St. John’s teammates Paris Horne and Justin Burrell. The trio, who are all playing professionally overseas, played as part of R2K/Ooh-Way in the New York portion of Ball Up Million Dollar Summer Challenge. They lost in the final to Sean Bell, but Hardy enjoyed being back on the court with his old buddies. It brought back memories.
“It was great. We had a great year together in college” Hardy said. “To see them still playing and being professionals and playing the game they love, I will always play with them until we stop playing.”
He continues to play at a high level and exhibit his skill as a top-notch scorer. Hardy felt it was time to further challenge himself last season and signed with Trabzonspor of the top league in Turkey.
“My role increased and I think the Turkish league has competition that is a little bit better than the Italian League, so I just wanted to see how I would do,” Hardy said.
He started, distinguishing himself as one of the league’s top players. The 6-foot-2 Hardy was ninth in scoring with 15.7 points per game. He also led his team with three assists per contest. Trabzonspor finished 16-14 and his time there brought out some of the best in him. He was asked to be the club’s defensive stopper along with its top scorer. Hardy felt he benefited from his time there so much that he will return to Trabzonspor next season.
“We had a great year,” Hardy said. “I played with some great guys. It definitely made me a better player.”
His role also further brought out his leadership qualities. Hardy has traditionally been a lead-by-example type player, deferring to veteran players and other guys who are better suited to be vocal. That couldn’t be the case in Turkey. It was Hardy who was thrust into the role and grew comfortable in it.
“I became a better vocal leader out there last year,” Hardy said. “I felt that helped me to improve all around. My having to do that made our team better.”
He made the most of his opportunity overseas this season and enjoys looking back at past accomplishments. There is still plenty of room for him still to grow as a player and push his career forward.
“Older guys would be the leader,” Hardy said. “I wasn’t the older guy this year, but they looked up to me, so I knew that was the right opportunity for me to do it.”