Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hardiman Commits to Slippery Rock

Megan Hardiman flew under the radar during her high school career at Merrimack Valley High. When you consider she led her team in virtually every offensive category, scored 1,000 career points, made 2nd team all-state and led her team to a 17-3 record as a senior you would have thought she didn't get even close to the recognition she deserved.

Well she is now proof that even if you fly under the radar in high school, if you have the talent the college coaches will find you - even the ones outside of New England. Hardiman has committed to Slippery Rock University, a Division II school that competes in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).

"When I visited the campus, I felt comfortable" said Hardiman, who is currently doing a post-grad year at Brewster Academy. "The team members that I met, were all very warm and welcoming and I could picture myself going to school there, and playing with them."

Because she didn't receive as much publicity in high school, Hardiman made the wise choice of doing a post-grad year at a prep school. This allowed her to get another year of exposure on the AAU circuit. This spring/summer she played for the NE Crusaders, a program that has long been a factory for Division I and II colleges in the northeast.

"Playing for the Crusaders, and Coach Leary, really prepared me for the next level" said Hardiman. "I was able to face a lot of really good competition over the last couple years, and I feel ready for the next level. Coach Leary was very involved in my continuing development, and provided me with the necessary tools to succeed at the next level, both physically and mentally."

What makes Hardiman an intriguing prospect at the college level is her versatility. She's 5'11" and can play all 5 positions on the floor. She has the handle and court vision to play the point, but also has the size, strength and finishes inside well enough to play in the post. Hardiman also has the quickness and ability to score in the mid-range area, drive to the basket and also hit the outside shot to play the wing. She competes hard on both ends of the floor, hustles after loose balls and is active on the boards as well. Simply put, she does a little bit of everything and has the size of a forward with the skills of a guard.

"Megan is a tremendously talented athlete and basketball player" said Kara Leary, the director of the NE Crusaders. "At 5’11", she can play either the point guard position or the big wing spot. She defends well, and has great anticipation on the defensive end. On the offensive end she can hit the open man with her excellent vision as well as score - both off the bounce and from the perimeter. Megan is a tremendously hard worker and a great player and teammate. We wish Megan and her family continued success as she finishes up her high school career at Brewster Academy and in her college career."

Hardiman has committed to a Slippery Rock program that struggled last year, finishing with a record of 3-23 (1-13 in the PSAC). However they had a first year head coach and a VERY young team. Their coach Tanya Longo has coached at Division I schools Southern Illinois, Santa Clara and Drake. And with 5 freshmen on this year's roster, they could certainly be a program on the rise over the next few years. None of their current players are from New England.

"I will do whatever the team needs me to do to win" Hardiman continued. "I have played every position through my basketball career, so wherever they need me, I will play there."

Of course another factor in the college decision for these kids has to be academics. For Hardiman, Slippery Rock turned out to be a good fit not only athletically, but academically as well.

"I plan on majoring in sports management" said Hardiman, whose sister Jessica plays basketball at NHTI in Concord. "Slippery Rock has a great sports management program, and was one of the major factors that influenced my decision."

Now that Hardiman has just finished making one of the biggest decisions of her life, she reflects on her fondest memory from her basketball career to this point.

"I would have to say scoring my 1000th point in high school" said Hardiman. It was such a proud moment for my family and for me, and it stands out as being one of the best moments in my high school career."

Congrats to Megan, and best of luck at Slippery Rock!

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