Dwight Hardy, welcome to the conversation. (More on Hardy in this Bronxnet video above.)
Before this season, the question of who is the best current Bronx-bred point guard came down to two names: Villanova University senior Corey Fisher and Kemba Walker, a junior at the University of Connecticut.
After a highly productive three-year run mostly coming off the bench for Nova, Fisher, who attended New Jersey hoops powerhouse St. Patrick's Catholic School, etched his name in NYC street ball lore over the summer when he dropped 105 points in a summer league game.
A highly-touted McDonald's All-American out of Manhattan's Rice High School, Walker started the season in flames for the unranked Huskies, torching ranked foes Michigan St. and Kentucky during a preseason tournament and single-handedly putting UConn back on the national map.
Both play for top 10 teams and are worthy heirs to the point guard throne held in the past by Bronx legends like Rod Strickland and Kenny Satterfield. Both are more like so-called combo scoring guards than classic pass-first versions like Strickland, a Truman High alum who starred in the NBA.
But on Thursday night, JFK grad Dwight Hardy, the starting point guard for a resurgent St. John's team, forced his way into the conversation. On a nationally-televised ESPN game, Hardy outplayed Walker in Madison Square Garden on his way to 33 points. His performance carried the Red Storm to a convincing 89-72 victory and put St. John's in a position to possibly earn a NCAA tournament birth.
In the aftermath, Hardy told the Daily News: "I was just in a zone. When I'm in a zone, I just kind of black out. . . . The basket just keeps getting bigger and bigger."
With a dangerous UConn squad hanging around mid-way through the second half, Hardy cut the Huskies heart out with 12 straight points for St. John's, including consecutive and-one three-point plays followed by two deep treys, one so off-balance he almost fell down.
Hardy's performance comes on the heels of a 32-point outburst in a loss to UCLA in Los Angeles and he leads his team in scoring (16.6 per game) and minutes played (33.3 per contest).
It's been a long road to national prominence for Hardy, a long-range bomber who averaged a ridiculous 39 point a game for JFK in 2006. Academic difficulties forced him to prep for a year at the Patterson School and then spend two yearz destroying opponents for Indian Hills Community College in Iowa. Last year, he came off the bench to average 10.5 ppg as the sixth man for the Red Storm.
But this year, new coach Steve Lavin has given Hardy the keys to the team and he has flourished. Lavin calls Hardy "as pure a shooter as I have ever coached, and additionally, he has the ability to create off the bounce."
Though he's battled bouts of inconsistency, Hardy's game seems to rise along with the level of competition. In a blowout of fifth-ranked Duke at MSG he dropped 26 and played the entire game. In an upset of 11th-ranked Georgetown he had 20.
At this point, I'd say Hardy's still number three behind Fisher and Walker, who despite a recent shooting slump is averaging almost 23 points per contest, plus four assists and five rebounds.
But still, Hardy's definitely in the conversation.
Quick Bronx hoops update:
--Wings Academy beat JFK today to take the boys Bronx Borough Championship, but don't fret Knight fans, JFK beat Spellman for the girls title. (Tiny amount of solace for Kennedy alums after the city voted last week to close the school by 2014.) The citywide PSAL basketball championship tournaments start next week.
--To arbed325: From what I understand after talking to PSAL organizers, looks like Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy boys team, at 10-9, is going to make the citywide field for the tournament. I'm under the impression all teams that finish over .500 make the tourney. We'll have more on this next week. And if you want us to put video on this site, upload your footage on youtube or vimeo, copy the embed code, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll embed it. We'll see what we can do about getting little league results once the seasons start. Thanks for writing in.
Final note: If there's anything you'd like us to write about, put suggestions in the comments section or email me at email@example.com.