Aug. 2, 2011
PISTOIA, Italy - St. John's men's basketball alum Dwight Hardy will head to Italy this fall, becoming the Red Storm's second member of the Class of 2011 to take his hardwood services overseas. Hardy, a 2011 Associated Press All-American, a first team All-BIG EAST selection and the conference's Most Improved Player, signed a professional contract with Pistoia Basket last week.
"Dwight Hardy's performance this past season set him apart as one of the best college basketball players in the country," said St. John's head coach Steve Lavin. "Dwight's scoring, playmaking and leadership served as a catalyst for our team's run to the NCAA Tournament and our program's resurgence. The St John's family is happy for him as we know he will have a great experience in Italy, and will be a major contributor to Pistoia Basketball."
Pistoia Basket, located in the Tuscany region of Italy and situated approximately 30 minutes outside of Florence, plays in Italy's Lega Due, or "second division." Hardy will play both point guard and shooting guard for the squad, undoubtedly electrifying crowds in the squad's home arena, The Palestra (capacity: 5,200). The league allows two Americans per squad, and Hardy is the first USA-born player signed, replacing former University of North Carolina standout Joe Forte, who played for Pistoia in 2010-11.
In March, Hardy became the first St. John's player to be named an AP All-American since Erick Barkley was an Honorable Mention AP All-American for the 1999-2000 season. Earlier that month, Hardy earned District II Player of the Year honors from the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) and was named to its All-District team, while in April, he earned first team All-Met honors from New York City's Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association (MBWA).
A candidate for the nation's player of the year as a top 20 finalist for the prestigious Wooden Award, Hardy finished the 2010-11 season averaging a team-best 18.3 points, ranking fourth among all BIG EAST players and improving from a 10.5 ppg average in 2009-10. Hardy was one of the top 3-point shooters in the BIG EAST, making 62 treys to average 1.9 per game and rank 12th in the conference. He was named BIG EAST Player of the Week a league-leading three times and earned weekly honors from the league a total of five times in 2010-11.
After making the move from the team's shooting guard and sixth man to starting point guard and scoring leader, Hardy led the Red Storm on an exciting ride in 2011, culminating in the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance since a 2002 trip that was vacated by the NCAA. He was at his best in St. John's six wins over ranked opponents, a program-high since 1999-2000, averaging 23.3 points in victories over 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.
Hardy's senior season marked the first year of The Lavin Era, which included a 21-12 overall record in 2010-11 - marking St. John's most wins since the 2002-03 season - with six Top 25 victories and four over Top 10 opponents. Hardy's play and Lavin's leadership helped transform a team that finished in 13th place in the BIG EAST Conference last season at 6-12 to a squad that tied for third in 2010-11 at 12-6 - only twice before has a jump of such magnitude occurred in BIG EAST Conference history. The Red Storm finished its season ranked 18th in the Associated Press Top 25, marking the first time it qualified for the postseason as a ranked team since 2000-01. The Red Storm, which posted a 7-1 record in eight regular season games at Madison Square Garden (capacity: 19,353) and a 5-2 record on campus at Carnesecca Arena (capacity: 5,602) saw its home attendance climb by 38.1 percent, marking the fourth-largest increase in NCAA Division I men's basketball.
Fans can visit the new RedStormTix.com to make a deposit or request 2011-12 season ticket information, which will be available this month. Student Season Tickets are now available for $99, and order forms can be found on RedStormTix.com or at the Carnesecca Arena Ticket Office. Fans can join the Red White Club by visiting RedStormSports.com and clicking on the link to "Giving" to visit the all-new Red White website.