March 14, 2011
QUEENS, N.Y. -
St. John's senior guard and All-America candidate Dwight Hardy was named to the 20-man 2011 Wooden Award final ballot, announced by the Los Angeles Athletic Club on Monday.
The Bronx native was a first team All-BIG EAST selection, the conference's Most Improved Player and a dynamic scorer who helped lead the No. 18/19 Red Storm to a share of third place in the conference, its first 20-win regular season since 1999-2000, the squad's first national ranking in 11 seasons and a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since its now-NCAA vacated appearance in 2002.
Hardy finished the season averaging a team-best 18.0 points per game, which ranked fourth among all conference players. He shot an efficient 84.3 percent from the free throw line to finish the regular season fifth in the league in that category. Hardy has hit 59 3-pointers this season, good for an average of 1.8 treys per game, which ranks 12th in the BIG EAST. He was named BIG EAST Player of the Week a league-leading three times and earned weekly honors from the league on five separate occasions in 2010-11.
"Dwight Hardy is completely deserving of the media's votes for the Wooden Award," head coach Steve Lavin said. "His leadership and outstanding performance on the court sets him apart as one of the best college basketball players in the country and has served as the catalyst for our team's run to the NCAA Tournament."
In leading St. John's back to the national rankings and the NCAA Tournament, Hardy has played some of his best basketball in wins over the country's most-formidable teams. St. John's posted a 4-1 record against teams ranked in the AP Top 10, and a 6-6 mark against teams ranked in the AP Top 25. Hardy averaged 23.3 points per game and posted an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.92 in the Red Storm's six wins over ranked opponents, which includes then-No. 13/13 Georgetown, then-No. 9/11 Notre Dame, then-No. 3/3 Duke, then-No. 10/9 Connecticut, then-No. 4/4 Pitt and then-No. 14/15 Villanova.
Against the Top 25, Hardy has averaged 17.8 points and 2.5 rebounds over 12 games. In those contests, Hardy has shot 45.8 percent from the field and 89.2 percent from the charity stripe. In games against top 10 teams, Hardy's field goal percentage has gone up to 50.8 percent. He got the ball to the rim to set up teammate Justin Brownlee's game-winning put-back against Georgetown, and helped put away Connecticut by scoring 21 second-half points, including three treys. Hardy hit the game-winning layup to defeat Pitt with 1.2 seconds to play.
Hardy was one of three BIG EAST players to make the final ballot which was sent to nearly 1,000 members of the media who cover college basketball. Selected by the Wooden Award National Advisory Board, each ballot is made up of 20 student-athletes who, based on their performances throughout the season, are the candidates for college basketball's most prestigious honors. The Wooden Award Men's All-America teams will be announced the week of the Elite Eight round during the NCAA Tournament, making it unique among college postseason awards.
Winners of 10 of their last 13 and 4-2 while playing as a ranked team for the first time in 10 seasons, Hardy leads the no. 18/19 Red Storm to its first NCAA Tournament berth since its now-NCAA vacated appearance in 2002. Playing as a No. 6 seed, the Red Storm will face 11th-seeded Gonzaga on Thursday, March 17, at approximately 9:45 p.m. ET at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo.