According to 247 Sports’ Composite rankings, Jaden Hardy is the third-best recruit nationally and the best guard in the 2021 class. On May 15, Hardy made the decision to skip college and play for the G League next season. Instead of playing for a traditional college team, Green will play for the G League Ignite.
The G League offers an option to rival the typical “one and done” path. Typically high level recruits will play one year in college without pay and then go to the NBA Draft. The G League offers recruits an option to play in their league for one year and receive pay. After playing in the G League for one year, these elite talents then become eligible for the NBA Draft. As this G League option continues to grow, college basketball is effected in a big way.
As mentioned, Hardy decided to go with the G League route. His decision seemed to come down to playing for Kentucky at the college level or the G League. At one point, Hardy seemed to be a lock for Kentucky. However, over the last several months insiders began to report Hardy was considering the G League instead of playing in college. Within the last two months, Hardy became a lock for the G League so his announcement came as no surprise.
The G League is starting to become a very attractive option for elite high school recruits. John Calipari at Kentucky has a good track record with guards. Some former Wildcat guards in the NBA includes John Wall, Devin Booker, Jamal Murray and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The fact Hardy selected the G League over Kentucky shows how much pull the G League has right now.
Impact on Hardy’s Draft Stock?
Many think the G League route can hurt players’ NBA Draft stock greatly. Compared to college, players can get less exposure in the G League. In addition, some think less exposure means NBA scouts know less about these players in the G League. However, the G League is directly under the NBA so it is easily accessible for NBA scouts.
Likely, Hardy’s draft stock will not be hurt by the G League. He is following the path of Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga. Both Green and Kuminga were 2020 recruits and selected the G League option. This was the first season with the G League offering this option for recruits. So far, it seems to work well for players. Over one season, Green and Kuminga’s stock as remained steady. Both have been projected as top five picks for over one year now.
Projected as a top 3-5 draft pick, Hardy is an elite talent. Based on Green and Kuminga’s path, Hardy’s stock should be unchanged by the G League. Hardy’s game translates well to the NBA level. To explain, he stands at 6-foot-4 and can be play either position in the backcourt. Further, Hardy can score in bunches. He can score at any level and handles the ball well. Also, Hardy is a very good isolation player thanks to his ball handling and jump shot ability. Many NBA offenses run isolations consistently due to player’s elite scoring ability. Hardy is perfect for isolation situations, when a bucket is needed he will deliver. Hardy is supremely talented and has the chance to be an All-Star caliber guard in the NBA.
— Overtime (@overtime) May 16, 2021
G League’s Growth
Overall, Hardy’s talent should not be overlooked by scouts. He will likely be another G League success story. This will only increase the G League’s pull for recruits. In turn, this will decrease talent in college basketball. The G League route’s growth will be worth watching . In only two seasons, the G League has already taken away major talent from college. Currently, the league can only take on a few high school recruits due to a lack of revenue. If the G League begins to generate more revenue, the league could grow and get even more talented.
College basketball could completely change if the G League continues to grow. One and done freshmen could become less common in college basketball. Hardy’s G League selection is a big deal and is worth keeping an eye on.