St. Louis grad Kevin Hardy had a chance to go to the Ivy League after high school but instead chose to play at McNeese State. (Photo Illustration by Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 11:18 AM
To hear others speak of Kevin Hardy you expect to be greeted by a young man wearing heavy, dark-rimmed glasses with tape holding them together at the bridge.
Somebody who might speak a little nasal, wear his pants up a little high and have a pocket protector in the left breast pocket and who just might be a little on the shy side.
Instead, you get a well-spoken, confident 6-foot, 2-inch slender man who looks every bit the part of a lead guard on a college basketball program.
“I’m not a geek,” Hardy says. “Maybe some of my teammates might think I am, but I don’t look at myself that way. I’m just a normal kid.”
Well, maybe not normal.
Hardy is the perfect combination of student-athlete.
Court wise and book smart, the junior has taken over the lead of the McNeese State basketball program.
“Kevin really leads by example,” said Cowboy head coach Dave Simmons. “He helps others on the floor and with their classes. He is somebody a lot of people look up to.”
For good reason. Hardy is grades first, basketball second. It has always been that way with him, dating back to his high school days down the road at St. Louis Catholic.
“School is the most important thing,” Hardy said.
It was that attitude that opened all sorts of doors from him after high school. He could have gone just about anywhere academically.
He even had a chance to go to an Ivy League school, with Columbia leading the way.
“You have to consider that,” Hardy said. “It was tough to pass that up, but you have to do what you think is best.”
For him, that was staying close to home and playing for McNeese.
“I am a homebody,” Hardy said. “I have two little brothers and I am able to stay in their lives. McNeese gave me the best opportunity to play basketball and school.”
What really sold him on McNeese State was the engineering program. Simmons knows that recruited him as much as basketball.
“Probably more,” Simmons said. “Without our engineering being so good, I don’t know if he would have come here. It was our biggest sell. That and a chance to play at home.
“We know he could have gone anywhere in the country to school academically. He could have played basketball in a few places as well. We are just happy this was a good fit and his choice.”
It is not always easy being both smart and athletic. Hardy admits finding enough time in a busy day can be tough.
You have to practice to be good and study to be smart. And there are only so many waking hours to cram all that in and still have some type of social life.
“That is extremely difficult,” Hardy said of the balancing act. “You have to find a common medium. You have to allow yourself enough time to hit the books but also enough time to keep up in the gym.
“They both take up so much time. I just try to make it work.”
And that he has been able to do mainly through hard work.
“Kevin wants to get better every year and he does that,” Simmons said. “He loves being tested both in class and in basketball.”
It is that challenge that keeps Hardy going.
“He is very competitive,” Simmons said. “He is an easy guy to work with, too. He comes to practice, does his work, knows what he needs to do to get better and does it.
“He is self-motivated.”Hardy is also realistic. While he dreams of NBA riches, he continues to bank on his brain.
“It is always in the back of my mind,” he said of pro basketball. “But it is education first. That is what is guaranteed, getting my degree.”
You would expect him to say nothing else, just maybe saying it with those glasses on.
Posted By: Paige Harkins-Caldwell On: 11/13/2013
I would like to thank the American Press and Jim Gazzolo for the article that was published yesterday on Kevin Hardy. We have known Kevin for a while because my two sons are the same age as his two younger brothers and they have been on the same baseball teams together. I often talk about Kevin and what a great student, athlete and big brother he is with my boys. But, I just have to share what happened after my 13 year old son read your article yesterday: last night I could tell something was on his mind and asked if he was ok? He then asked if he could talk to me. He asked if I would take away his I phone. WHAT??? Because he wanted to focus on his grades more and the phone is a distraction. He is an honor roll student and an athlete at SJ Welsh and just got a great progresss report yesterday. After questioning him as to why the sudden change. He admitted that the article his Dad brought home for him to read about Kevin Hardy was the reason!!! So, thank you American Press for printing a positive article on an amazing young student-athlete! Hopefully it inspired many young people just like it did for my son.
Posted By: Pam Wildblood Fontenot On: 11/12/2013
From the beginning you could see on the court that Kevin was a leader. When you meet his family in the stands you can see where Kevin gets his class, drive and determination. Glad he chose McNeese to play basketball.
Posted By: Dr. Marcus Jackson On: 11/12/2013
Title: Dr. Marcus Jackson
Great article young man. Keep up the good work. You focus and committed to excellence. That's a deadly combination. You'll be successful in whatever you do. Keep up the good work. You're the epitome of a student athlete!
Posted By: Local Marine On: 11/12/2013
Title: Solid young man
I had the pleasure of speaking to him when he was still a senior at St Louis Catholic, and was amazed at how poised yet reserved he was. He left no doubt in my mind no matter what he did in life he would be a leader in doing it. Every time i see someone associated with the McNeese basketball team i inquire to how Kevin is doing and always hear good things, even though it's completely expected