Thursday, April 20, 2017 | 2 a.m.
Everything about Amauri Hardy is fast. The four-star point guard from Michigan prefers to play at a breakneck pace, using his explosive speed and athleticism to attack the rim at every opportunity.
“I feel I’m at my best when I’m playing up-tempo,” Hardy said. “Playing fast, not really setting up too much but looking to score within the first couple seconds before the defense really gets a chance to set up and guard us. I try to make my attacks real fast. Even when the defense is set up, I try to make my move and make everything fast.”
Given that scouting report, it makes sense that Hardy is taking the same approach to choosing a college.
After averaging 29 points and six assists per game as a senior at North Farmington (Farmington, Mich.), Hardy thought his recruitment was behind him when he committed to Oklahoma State. But when coach Brad Underwood left the Cowboys to take the Illinois job last month, Hardy de-committed. Now he’s fast-breaking through a second recruitment, with UNLV, Georgia Tech, Arkansas and Seton Hall all trying to catch up with him.
Hardy just wrapped up an official visit to Arkansas last weekend, and he’s currently in the process of planning a trip to Las Vegas to check out the UNLV campus. The goal is to reach a decision by early May — a condensed recruiting window that seems to suit the fact-paced Hardy just fine.
In fact, Hardy isn’t opposed to doubling down on the fast-forward button when it comes to committing again.
“I kind of want to [commit] in early May, but I don’t want to wait real late,” Hardy said. “If I think a school is right for me, I’ll go ahead and sign the papers rather than sitting back and overthinking the situation.”
Hardy is rated as the No. 22 point guard in the Class of 2017 by ESPN, and that makes him a tantalizing target for UNLV coach Marvin Menzies. The Rebels could use a long-term point guard to build around, and Menzies has often talked about wanting to play at a faster pace. UNLV is also in desperate need of talented scorers. Hardy would check all three of those boxes.
North Farmington coach Todd Negoshian thinks Hardy will waste no time making an impact at the college level.
“I think he’s the best player to come out of Michigan in this class,” Negoshian said. “No matter where he goes, he’s going to play monster minutes for somebody because he’s a scorer and he can also fit a role. He’s one of the smartest and most competitive players I’ve ever been around.”
After deploying him mostly off the ball in 2015-16, Negoshian asked Hardy to attack and score more as a senior. That was music to the 6-foot-3 lefty’s ears. He showed an elite ability to burst through cracks in the defense and finish at the rim, and he also improved his 3-point accuracy by leaps and bounds, jumping from 12 percent in 2015-16 to 45 percent this season.
Once he officially de-committed from Oklahoma State and went back on the market, Menzies and assistant Rob Jeter quickly reached out. Hardy said he plans to visit UNLV next, and that the trip could happen sometime in the next two weeks.
Hardy left Arkansas without committing, which is probably a good sign for the Rebels’ chances.
“I want to look at the facilities, the area surrounding the school, see how the people are, what the coaching staff is like,” Hardy said. “I’ll be leaving [my home] to go to a new place for the whole course of my college career, which will be four years, so I want to see what the school has to offer outside of basketball.”
Aside from his potential fit on the court, Negoshian believes UNLV would benefit from Hardy’s leadership and intelligence.
“He’s got an unbelievable basketball IQ,” Negoshian said. “Every day in practice, he’s got his arm around me saying, ‘Coach, why are we doing this?’ He’s not second-guessing, he just wants to learn the game. Amauri allows you to do a variety of things. We run a lot of set plays and we go up and down. There are so many things we can do because of his basketball IQ.”
Hardy never signed a letter of intent to Oklahoma State, so he is free to play for any Division I team in 2017-18. And though the spring signing period runs until May 17, don’t expect Hardy to take that long to make his decision.
“When it happens, it’s going to happen fast,” he said.