Top remaining 2021 recruit Jaden Hardy is unlikely to play college basketball

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With Chet Holmgren committing to Gonzaga on Monday, there is a new top remaining high school basketball recruit in the class of 2021.

Henderson (Nev.) Coronado combo guard Jaden Hardy has ranked second just behind Holmgren in the industry-generated 247Sports Composite Rankings throughout the 2021 recruiting cycle. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Hardy has an offer from every blue blood program in college basketball and could make an instant impact for an NCAA Tournament title contender.

Just don’t expect him to be doing that come the fall.

Unlike Holmgren, who made it clear he is intent on playing college basketball leading up to Gonzaga, Hardy is more likely to take his talents straight to the professional ranks. All of Hardy’s current 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions project the Nevada native to go pro next season, which seems likely at this point.

RELATED: No. 1 2021 recruit Chet Holmgren commits to Gonzaga

That does not mean Hardy has completely shut the door on playing college basketball, though. He narrowed his list of suitors to Arizona State, Georgia, Georgetown, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan, Oregon, Texas Tech and UCLA, and two schools look to be standing above the rest if he decides to spurn the professional ranks and play (likely) a year of college basketball.

“Right now, the three options receiving buzz behind the scenes are the G League, UCLA and Kentucky, in that order,” 247Sports’ Travis Branham said. “Kentucky was slotted as the early favorite in the race for Hardy but in recent months it has gone quiet as the G League has separated themselves as the clear-cut leader. If Hardy does make a surprising decision to attend college next season, signs point towards playing for Mick Cronin and the UCLA Bruins but again, the professional route is what is expected.”

Whether he lands in the Pac 12, SEC, or the G League, Hardy is one to keep an eye on throughout the next year. His recruitment hasn’t generated quite as much buzz as Holmgren’s, but what he brings to the court is an undeniably elite skill set that has him primed to be playing in the NBA sooner rather than later.

“Hardy is the best offensive player in the senior class,” 247Sports’ Brandon Jenkins said in his scouting report of Hardy. “He gets buckets from four different ranges on the floor and is elite at creating his own shot on demand. He has the touch of an elite scorer who can hit jumpers with a high degree of difficulty. He has tremendous range out to the NBA three-point line that stretches a defense and opens up driving lanes for his teammates.”

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