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Akouris: Hardy comes a long way from Providence

Northwestern University against Standford

Northwestern University against Standford

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Updated: August 16, 2013 6:17AM



When Providence’s boys basketball team won a regional title in February, it probably brought back memories of Greg Scott and Tavaras Hardy, who starred at the New Lenox school in the 1990s.

This year’s regional championship was the first for the Celtics since 1999. Hardy can remember the regional title he won with the Celtics in 1998, against Oak Forest. He and his best friend, Greg Smith, cut down the nets together.

That time at Providence led to a stint at Northwestern, where Hardy played for four seasons under coach Bill Carmody and then was an assistant under his Wildcat mentor.

Hardy has left the Wildcats and is taking a new opportunity at Georgetown, where the Hoyas program is a little more renowned than NU’s and there’s a better chance of coaching in the NCAA Tournament. NU never has made the NCAAs in its history.

And with the new opportunity, Hardy can reflect on how he got to Washington D.C., home of the Hoyas.

“I think Dick Mandella was one of the biggest influences on my life,” Hardy said of the former Providence coach. “He introduced new opportunities to me and was vital in my life.”

Hardy, a Joliet native, always wanted to stay close to home and going to NU was an easy choice. His decision was affirmed when he was able to start as a freshman. He played early and often.

While at NU (from 1998 to 2002), Hardy was an All-Big Ten selection, and ended his career ranked second on the school’s all-time list for most games played with 118 (113 starts). He has more than 1,000 career points.

“I know about the tales he’s told since he’s been here,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said with a laugh. “I became aware of him when he was at Northwestern and I had kept in touch with him.”

That contact eventually led to Hardy leaving the Wildcats after serving under Carmody for seven years and just a couple of short months with the Wildcats’ new coach, Chris Collins. Carmody was fired in March and Collins was hired by the end of that month.

The decision to leave was bittersweet for Hardy, and Thompson knew it.

“He loves Northwestern and everything about it,” Thompson said. “And I had to go into my recruiting pitch.”

Thompson said he understood how hard it was for Hardy to leave NU and the Chicago area. But Thompson is glad he got the type of assistant and recruiter he did in Hardy.

“Chicago is home to him, and now he had to pack up and move his family,” Thompson said. “But I do feel it was the right decision for him.”

Hardy agreed, and said leaving Evanston was something that he had to do, from a pure professional standpoint. But his heart will always remain with his alma mater.

“I feel a lot of love for Northwestern and everything that they are doing over there,” Hardy said. “It’s my alma mater, after all.”

So does Hardy feel even the least bit homesick?

“No, not at all,” he laughed.



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