Hardy Took NU Gig Over Finance Job (Men’s Basketball)

Andrew Simon

By Andrew SimonThe Daily Northwestern

Just a year ago, Tavaras Hardy was working for JPMorgan Chase & Co. as an average financial analyst – or at least as average as it can get when you’re a 6-foot-8 former two-time all-Big Ten basketball player.

That all changed when Northwestern assistant coach Craig Robinson left NU last June to take the head coaching position at Brown, opening up a spot on the coaching staff. Even though Hardy had found success in the business world, when he heard about the opening he jumped at the chance to return to his alma mater.

On July 17, he accepted a job as a Wildcats assistant coach.

“When this opportunity came by, it was one I couldn’t pass up,” Hardy said. “Basketball is so much more natural to me than advising wealthy people on what to do with their money.”

Although he left his business career behind, Hardy still finds use for some of the same skills, especially when it comes to recruiting.

“So much of (recruiting) is similar to what I was doing in wealth management,” Hardy said. “It’s relationship management. You have to get out there. You have to knock on the doors and make the phone calls and get in front of a lot of different people to have the best chance of success.

Recruiting, especially in the Chicago area, could turn out to be a major strength for Hardy. Historically NU has struggled to bring in the top local players, perhaps because of its reputation as an academically rigorous school.

But Hardy, a Joliet, Ill. native, knows the area well and knows what it takes to succeed as a student-athlete at NU. And he believes many of these players have the necessary ingredients.

“People have a misperception of Chicago kids, that they can’t come in and do the work, and that’s just flat-out not true,” Hardy said. “We just have to do a better job of finding guys who want to buy into what we’re trying to do.

Hardy’s own career at NU lasted from 1998 until 2002.

He led the Cats’ in rebounds and blocked shots in each of his last three seasons and in field goal percentage in each of his last two. Hardy also holds the school record with 118 games played and is in the top 20 in seven major statistical categories.

“He could dribble the ball pretty well for a big guy, he was a good passer and he was just a competitor,” said coach Bill Carmody, who took over at NU for Hardy’s final two seasons. “I know in the locker room he probably handled a lot of things that needed to be handled that didn’t even get to me. He was a leader.”

Hardy’s experience, along with his friendly and easy-going personality, has allowed him to develop a good rapport with the NU players.

Although Hardy believes he is sometimes too easy on the players because he is so close with them, the Cats see his ability to relate as a benefit.

“It’s kind of like a player-player type relationship,” senior center Vince Scott said. “You feel more comfortable talking to him, because he’s a little younger, he knows what we’re going through and he knows how to handle those situations more than maybe the older coaches do.”

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