LAS VEGAS — Jerrick Harding seemingly had it all.Harding

As a sophomore at Weber State, he scored a school-record 46 points during a 95-92 overtime victory over Montana State. That season he was named to the All-Big Sky first team while averaging 22 points per game.

As a junior, Harding averaged 21.4 points and was again named to the All-Big Sky first team. And as a senior during the 2019-20 season, the 6-1, 180-pound point guard scored 44 points in a game, became Weber State’s all-time leading scorer, was second team all-Big Sky and was seventh in the nation in scoring at 22.2 points per game.

Harding even graduated from high school as his school’s all-time leading scorer, and also was named Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Kansas. And his three-game point total of 103 points in the 2016 high school state tournament snapped a 37-year old Class 6A state tournament scoring record in Kansas.

Fast forward to after his senior season at Weber State, Harding was holding out hope that he could use NBA pre-draft camps and other organized workouts to showcase his skill set. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of those workouts and camps were canceled – as well as the NBA summer league —  and Harding ultimately was not selected in the 2020 NBA Draft.

By all accounts, Harding was both a high school and college phenom. But with no place in the states to showcase his talents after his college career was over, Harding found himself in a quagmire.

“There weren’t any workouts coming out of college,” he said. “So nobody really knew my game or anything like that.”

So Harding spent the past two seasons languishing with the Basketball Nymburk in the Czech National Basketball League. That’s a far cry from the NBA, but the Wichita, KS, native had to do what he had to do.

Harding“It was a really good experience,” Harding said. “I feel like I grew a lot not only as a player, but as a man. I was a million miles away from home and there were times when it can get kind of depressing when you’re on your lonely vibes.

“But I feel like I did a great job trying to dive into the culture, getting out and exploring.”

Harding and Basketball Nymburk won back-to-back Czech Republic League championship in 2021 and this past season. But his heart back was in the states, where he averaged 27.8 points as a high school senior.

Eventually, Harding made his way back to the United State and onto the Dallas Mavericks’ summer league roster. And with numerous NBA coaches, scouts, general managers and president of basketball operations personnel in the stands during the recent Las Vegas summer league, Harding knew it was his time to shine.

And boy, did he ever.

Harding produced an 18-point, one-turnover game off the bench in 23 minutes for the Mavs against the Utah Jazz on July 11 when he was 8-of-14 from the field. He also came off the bench to collect 20 points, five rebounds and five assists with no turnovers last Tuesday in 23 minutes against Phoenix when he was 7-of-13 from the floor.

In addition, Harding played 24 minutes off the bench last Thursday against Milwaukee and finished with 16 points and five assists and was 7-of-10 from the field.

Harding got buckets so easily that Mavs coaches frequently referred to him as a bucket getter.

“I think Jerrick was phenomenal,” said Jared Dudley, one of the Mavs’ three summer league head coaches. “I thought Jerrick was our best player in this camp.”

Told of what Dudley said about him, Harding’s eyes lit up.

“Right there, see, that’s a big compliment coming from Jared Dudley,” he said. “I watched him a lot growing up.Harding

“I feel like being here (in Las Vegas) I opened some eyes. I’ve gotten some good feedback from some coaches — my coaches — so it’s been good. It’s a blessing.”

Harding believe it also was a blessing just to get to play for the Czech Republic.

“Looking back on it, you don’t want to be like, ‘Oh, I should have done this, I should have done that,’ “ he said. “I feel like I took full advantage of being in Europe, so it was really fun.”

Harding even navigated his way through the language barrier.

“They speak Czech, but a lot of the people speak English, so you don’t really have a problem when you go out,” he said. “There’s usually somebody there who speaks English, so that wasn’t a big problem.

“And the food was actually pretty good. I’m a really picky eater, but they like chicken and rice and gravy, and that’s my type of food, so I enjoyed the food over there.”

HardingIn his five summer league games for the Mavs, Harding averaged 13.8 points and four assists in 22.8 minutes. He was 27-of-54 from the field (50 percent), 8-of-22 from three-point range (36.4 percent) and committed only six turnovers.

In offering constructive criticism to Harding, Dudley said: “For him to be able to play (in the NBA), you’ve got to be able to pick up full court, you’ve got to be able to contain and get your teammates involved. But scoring, man, he was big for us.”

Now that summer league is over, Harding finds himself in a situation similar to where he was coming out of Weber State two years ago. In a holding pattern.

It’s a wait-and-see game where Harding doesn’t know if he’ll get an invitation to the Mavs’ training camp in September, or even an invite to another NBA team’s training camp. In the meantime, he relished his time playing for the Mavs.

“It’s been a really good experience getting to play against guys at this level,” Harding said. “I didn’t get to play against some of these guys coming out of college because it was 2020 with Covid. I’m not taking it for granted. I took everything in while I was here. I feel like I played pretty well. I got to showcase myself, so it was a great experience.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

Share and comment

More Mavs News