A Wolverine is headed to the Pacific Northwest on a basketball scholarship
Jun 29, 2018 04:02PM
By Greg James
Jimmy Harding averaged 17.7 points per game in his senior and only year of high school basketball. (Photo courtesy of Sara Harding)
By Greg James | [email protected]
Success for Hunter graduate Jimmy Harding came through his trials and the courage he had to never give up. Days before varsity basketball tryouts he was unsure he even wanted to play and now he has a basketball scholarship.
“This was my first year to play high school ball,” Harding said. “The coaches liked my work ethic. My new coaches (at Centralia College) have told me that I will need to work hard. They will not guarantee me a spot. I will need to earn it.”
He has signed with Centralia College in Washington. The Trailblazers compete in the Northwest Athletic Conference. It is located south of Seattle near Olympia, Washington.
This will not be the first time Harding has encountered a new environment.
He was born in Cairo, Egypt, and his family moved to the United States when he was 2 years old. After living in foster care for several years, he was adopted by the Hardings at age 12. He became part of the family with two of his natural siblings; the Hardings already had five children.
In a family of eight kids, he faced many challenges and decided to leave for a short time. He returned for his senior year and made the decision to do his best.
“I thought about my future and the support they (friends and family) were willing to give me,” Harding said. “I knew what was right. Hunter High was a good school. The people are great and helped me a lot.”
As basketball season approached, he was not sure he was going to try out. He had never played organized high school basketball.
“I was doing boxing when the season was going to start,” he said. “I thought I was going to plan to stick to that. I was not sure I wanted to stop. Then I changed my mind and decided to take a break from it.”
In a surprise to him, he made the varsity team and rarely played to begin the season.
“I sat and watched the games and wondered what I could do,” Harding said.
He got his chance and played in 16 games for the Wolverines. He averaged 17.7 points per game, and 8.1 rebounds. In back-to-back games he scored 30 points each (against Hillcrest and Taylorsville), his season high.
“Coach always wanted us to hustle,” Harding said. “He did not like when we walked, and he wanted us to play defense. Coach always wanted me to go to the rim and score.”
The Wolverines only managed to win three games despite their efforts.
“I think we could have done better this year,” Harding said. “I am not sure we had the confidence to finish it up. We would play well at the beginning of the game, and then we would fall apart. We could not finish it. I think at times we got intimidated. I have tried to not play that way. I think my boxing helped with that.”
His coaches, parents and recruiters helped him find Centralia College.
“Jimmy went above and beyond our expectations for our players,” Wolverines head basketball coach Rob Collins said. “The future is very bright for him, and we are excited to see what it holds.”
Harding will leave for school July 29. He plans to study physical therapy.
“I am really excited and can’t wait,” Harding said. “The team last year was really good. I will find out for myself when I get there. I would like to build my skills and get better.”