G-League Ignite brings elite talent – including Detroit native Jaden Hardy – into game against Motor City Cruise

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Area basketball fans missed seeing Detroit native Jaden Hardy become a likely first-round pick.

When his older brother Amauri, who distinguished himself in high school in suburban Detroit, signed with UNLV in April 2017, the family moved to Las Vegas, where Hardy became one of the top five high school prospects in Coronado. (Nv.) High School.

Area fans get a chance to catch 19-year-old Jaden Hardy and his brother on Tuesday night as both chose to spend their first seasons of professional basketball with the NBA G-League Ignite, the home environment. development league learning for young prospects.

The Motor City Cruise will host the Ignite at Wayne State Arena. The game will air on Bally Sports Detroit at 7 p.m.

“I’m really looking forward to it because it’s been a long time since I played in Detroit,” Jaden Hardy recently told Pistons.com. “Just being able to come back as a professional and play in Detroit, my hometown, is going to be awesome.”

“Family will be there, friends that I grew up with, so just being able to be in that type of environment again, it’s going to be fun.”

The game is one of the flagship contests of Cruise’s G-League inaugural season. As part of the celebration of Black History Month, the cruise will wear new uniforms, which were introduced last week on Bally Sports. the the uniforms were conceptualized by local fashion designer Ken Walker.

Cruise had a successful debut season, ranking atop the league standings for most of the season which started in November. Second-year point guard Saben Lee was recently named G-League Player of the Week.

The G-League Ignite is in its second year of competition and has a roster of four players – including 6ft 4in shooter Jaden Hardy – on Athletic’s top 100 prospects for the next NBA Draft. The primary goal of Ignite is to give elite prospects another option besides college basketball or going overseas.

“It provides an opportunity for players after high school,” Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “Gamers might not want to go to college or be a good fit for college. “That’s okay because Ignite gives them that platform to be able to play, work on their craft, and also get paid for it at the same time, right here in their home country”.

Why was the G-League Ignite created?

For most prospects, one season must pass after high school graduation to be eligible for the NBA draft. Traditionally, this meant spending at least a year in college or abroad before achieving a lifelong dream.

It was announced in April 2020 that high school students would be offered another option, the Ignite. Some prospects could play with veterans in exhibition games against other G-League teams and national teams from other countries. Prospects would be paid; eventual third pick in the 2021 draft, Jalen Green quickly signed for $500,000. High draft picks Green and Jonathan Kuminga played in the first season.

Jaden Hardy said he spoke to both during the G-League weigh-in against the university.

“It was just to see how their experiences were and they told me they really enjoyed it,” said Hardy, who will be participating in the Rising Stars Challenge during NBA All-Star Weekend later this week. “They felt like it was a good choice for me.

“They said if I just do what I keep doing, just keep working, then everything will be fine.”

Jaden Hardy has the added benefit of playing with his older brother, who transferred to Oregon for his final year of eligibility. Amauri Hardy, who was not drafted in 2021, was considering moving overseas to start his professional career but decided to join Ignite with his brother.

“It was a good opportunity for me when I got out of college,” said Amauri Hardy. “I felt like I could really grow here and work my art on a professional level. Then the opportunity to play with my brother is pretty much a unique situation, being able to play with him.

“Even for my freshman year, I feel like it would just be a step in the right direction.”

And he speaks for both players when it comes to the Detroit area where he led North Farmington to the MHSAA Class A state title game as a junior in 2016.

“I haven’t played in Detroit since high school, so being able to see some familiar faces in the crowd will be cool,” said Amauri Hardy. “I know the game is going to be played at Wayne State, so it’s going to be cool. I can’t wait to see a lot of my family members who haven’t even gotten to see me play in person since I was in high school.

“I feel like people are going to come out and show their love and support – especially seeing (Jaden) leave for Vegas to play basketball. This may be the first time people have seen him in Detroit in a game setting and not on TV. It’s gonna be a good experience.

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