Professional players balling in Europe with chips on their shoulders is as common as Julius Randle going the extra mile each day at home or on the road with his extra work outs in order to be the best he can like Kobe Bryant always showed and it isn´t any different with current rookie Jerrick Harding who is playing with ERA Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL). After being a standout at Wichita Southeast High School where he averaged 27,8ppg, there was no interest from Kansas´s top NCAA school´s Kansas, Kansas State and Wichita State. The only school that had interest in him and believed in his basketball qualities was Weber State. There after a solid freshman season, he exploded in his last three seasons averaging 21,9ppg. After a standout career, the American is recognized as one of the best players that ever played there with other guys like ex NBA players Edward Gill and Joel Bolomboy as well as players like Scott Bamforth, Kyndahl Hill and Brekkot Chapman, but none is as known as Damian Lillard that played his entire career at the school. The biggest difference to Lillard and Harding is that Lillard has become a NBA superstar and Harding is trying to make a name in Europe. Lillard had three solid first seasons and broke out as a senior averaging 24,5ppg. Technically Harding had a better scoring career then Lillard there, but at the end of the day didn´t pave the road to the NBA for him. His early basketball journey has been a positive one, but at the same time his talent not being recognized better has actually helped him develop a chip early that has helped him want to always be a better player. “It definitely put a chip on my shoulder. I was kind of hurt not getting an offer from my own hometown college, Wichita State, and we also played the state tournament in their arena where I scored 103 points in three games. I still use it as motivation to this day, and I alsso remember that when I’m in the gym, and just think to myself that I don’t want to be overlooked anymore”, stressed Jerrick Harding. A big aid in his basketball journey has been the city Wichita where he comes from and Damian Lillard. “Wichita made me who I am today and I feel like Wichita is a place that not too many people know much about, and even though we kind of fly under the radar, we have a lot of success that comes out of there as well. Wichita is a place that instilled hard work and never backing down. You have to be confident in what you do, because if you’re not people can sense it and tear you down. Damian Lillard has been a mentor to me. He always keeps up with what’s going on at Weber and he saw potential in me. From then it was him giving me pointers during the season and when he would come back to train at Weber in the summers. We eventually exchanged numbers and I reach out to him for any questions I have and it’s definitely cool to have someone who is where you want to be, give you game and support you”, stressed Jerrick Harding. Who knows where Jerrick Harding would be today without Wichita, Weber State and Damian Lillard. “I think about this sometimes, but I just try to live in the moment and worry about my reality as of now. I feel it´s all about making the most of the opportunities you get so I feel like regardless I would have been fine. I´m definitely thankful and blessed to have been able to go to Weber State and have a relationship with one of my favorite NBA players”, stressed Jerrick Harding.
Jerrick Harding was born on April 13th, 1998 in Wichita, Kansas and began to play basketball at age 2, but also enjoyed soccer and football. He attended Southeast High School and led the school to the state championship where he averaged an insane 34,3ppg and his 103 points broke a 37 year record. He left the school as it´s all-time leading scorer. He picked up the awards HS Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year, HS All-State honors, and HS Class 6A runner-up -16. He scored more points 103 in that state tournament than Wilt Chamberlains´s 100 points in a game even if it wasn´t in one game, but the whole experience was thrilling. “That was 103 points in three games, which was a record too, but it was fun because nobody saw our team making it to the state tournament and it was also fun for me being that those were my last three high school games”, remembered Jerrick Harding. After high school, he picked Weber State where he balled from 2016-2020 and played a total of 119 NCAA games. In his freshman year he played 30 games averaging 9.5ppg, 2.0rpg, FGP: 55.5%, 3PT: 40.8%, FT: 85.2%. He averaged only 18 minutes per game, but finished strong. After scoring in double figures 8 times in his first 23 games, he ended the season scoring in double figures in his last 7 games. He scored 22 points against Idaho State, 19 points against Montana State and 18 points a piece against North Dakota and Texas A&M CC. He celebrated his break out season as a sophomore as his average rose from 9,5ppg to 22,2ppg and minutes went from 18 to 33 minutes. “I had more of an opportunity in my second year, but also with the work that I put in the summer before I came back super confident. We also lost our leading scorer from the year before so I had a bigger role on the team”, stated Jerrick Harding. His averaged 22.2ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.6apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 56.9%, 3PT: 43.2%, FT: 87.9%. he scored in double figures in 28 of 30 games and scored more than 20 points or more 20 times. He exploded against Montana State with 46 points in a classic 95-92 victory and also scorched Iona and S Utah for 31 points a piece and hit Arkansas Pine Bluff for 30 points. His 682 points as a sophomore was also a school record.
In his junior year, the American who has NBA legends Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan, Lebron James and Kobe Bryant on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore kept up his consistency averaging 21.4ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.4apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 53.6%, 3PT: 36.6%, FT: 87.0%. He scored in double figures in 27 of 30 games including 20 points or more 19 times. He rocked Delaware State for 36 points in a 83-69 win, scored 31 points against San Jose State in a 85-77 win and had 30 points against BYU and Montana. In his senior year he played 29 games averaging 22.2ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 59.0%, 3PT: 32.8%, FT: 86.3%. One game he will never forget was his 44 point explosion in the 70-66 victory over Sacramento State where he broke teammate Jeremy Senglin´s school scoring record. It was a hard choice for him to pick which game in his NCAA career was his most memorable since his 46 points also was massive. “Probably the 44 point game, because it was a must needed game and we had been through tons of ups and downs my senior season, so to break the all time scoring record, score 44, and beat Sac State was a big accomplishment. Also Jeremy Senglin is a really good player that I played with my freshman year of college so it was definitely an honor”, remembered Jerrick Harding. He isn´t only aggressive on the court, but also has that aggressive mentality. Had someone told him as a freshman that he would leave the school as it´s all-time scoring leader, he would have had an answer ready. “I would’ve said, “we will see”. I don’t think I was thinking of anything like that at the time. I was just thinking about what I had to do to play more minutes. But, I also had the confidence to be like , “why not me”, stressed Jerrick Harding. He scored in double figures in 27 of 29 games and scored 20 points or more 18 times. He had other senior year memorable games like scoring 36 points against Utah State in a 72-66 win and had 32 points in a OT 87-85 win over Montana where he scored 9 points in OT. He was so consistent in his last three years as he scored in double figures in 82 of 89 games as the grind and staying in the lab was vital. “I feel like that just comes with hard work and having confidence in myself to go out there and do what I know how to do. I also have to give credit to my teammates and coaches over the years for giving me confidence and letting me play my game as well”, expressed Jerrick Harding. He also knows that he wouldn´t be the player that he is today had he not gotten the green light from head coach Randy Rahe. “Coach Rahe taught me a lot, and it was more about off the court, and how to handle yourself, how to be on time, just what it takes to be a successful person first. The culture that I was a part of at Weber will always be with me and I feel like I built so many good habits from Coach Rahe and Weber State”, commented Jerrick Harding. He left Weber State with numerous awards and achievements like Big Sky Conf. All-Tournament Team -17, Big Sky Conf. Tournament Finalist -17, All-Big Sky Conf. 1st Team -18, 19, NABC NCAA D1 All-District 6 1st Team -18, 19, Big Sky Conf. Tournament Semifinals -19, USBWA All-District VIII Team -20, All-Big Sky Conf. 2nd Team -20, and NABC NCAA D1 All-District 6 2nd Team -20.
The Kansas native who last saw the movie Coming To America signed his first professional contract on August 4, 2020 with ERA Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL) LIVING In Podebrady. He was an unbelievable consistent player in the NCAA in his last three years, but this season there are so many outside factors with COVID-19 that players have to deal with which makes the whole experience difficult. “We’ve actually had to be in Quarantine as a team twice this year, and it can definitely challenge your mental state. It’s definitely tougher as far as living with COVID, because a lot of times you can´t do the things you want to do, and you have to make sure you’re on your P’s and Q’s at all times, because you have to be safe and not risk your own health but others as well. Also with games getting canceled all the time it can be difficult to stay in a good rhythm as a team, but we just have to keep being professionals and be ready to play when it’s time to play”, stressed Jerrick Harding. COVID-19 definitely has made everyone more aware of how precious life is and that one should cherish every day you have with family. COVID-19 definitely made him stronger as a man. “Honestly, COVID has just made me not take anything for granted, because as we’ve seen it has taken a lot from people. In order for you to be successful in life you are going to have to go through adversity, and my thinking is if we can make it through COVID, we can make it through anything”, warned Jerrick Harding.
The American who lists current Boston Celtic Jayson Tatum as his most toughest player he faced as a youth on the court has joined an organization with ERA Basketball Nymburk that is the most famous basketball club in the Czech Republic. He is more than blessed to be able to play and learn and develop as a player with such a legendary organization. “I’ve learned to appreciate that they care about everyone in their organization and they make sure that you know that. I’ve also just loved being around a winning culture. Everyone in the organization plays a role in why Nymburk is such a successful organization”, stated Jerrick Harding. The club currently has a 25-1 record in the NBL league in the Czech Republic and they are always the target each weekend, because every other team is gunning for that upset. “It’s a challenge, but at the same time it’s a blessing in disguise because we can’t take any games for granted, and I feel like it just helps us build habits in the way we want to play”, added Jerrick Harding. He also has been fortunate to have some great teammates who have made his rookie season a lot easier. One of those players has been guard Retin Obasohan who has seen a lot in his career. “It’s been great playing with him. He been a great teammate and someone I can look to if I have any questions about on the court stuff or even off the court as far as the pro lifestyle. Any time you can get around someone who has been playing at this level for a while it’s good to pick their brain so you can just know things to expect”, stated Jerrick Harding. He also has had the luxury of playing with a guy Petr Benda who collects titles as easily as Serena Williams has with Grand Slams as he has an amazing 24 titles to his credit. “Petr is one of the nicest guys ever man. He is a legend in my eyes, and for him to have the longevity that he’s had is definitely something that I admire. He’s definitely someone I take things from, just how he prepares himself for practice/games, what he does after to make sure his body is ready to go the next day, and just how locked in he always is when it’s time to go”, expressed Jerrick Harding.
The Kansas native who lists his five best teammates of all-time with Dre Franklin, Jordan Murdock, Brenden Morris, Richaud Gittens, and Petr Benda is a 185cm guard that like many other kids out there idolized Allen Iverson. “Growing up I always wanted to be like Allen Iverson. I knew I probably wasn’t going to be that tall because my Dad is 185 cm, so I would always take moves from him and go work on them outside or in the gym. But I admire him so much because even though he was one of the smallest guys on the court , he was also the most fearless, and he got buckets”, stressed Jerrick Harding. He is playing incredibly efficient as a rookie in the NBL league averaging 16,7ppg, 2,6rpg and 1,6apg in 18 minutes per game. He demonstrated in the NCAA that he is an explosive scorer, but he can do so much more on the court. Any teammate that has ever played with him saw that ultra competitiveness and that zeal to do anything to get the victory. His will to do anything to get the dub has also helped spark this year´s team to being so successful. He shot over 40% from the parking lot in his first two seasons in the NCAA, but in the last two years of school didn´t eclipse the 40% mark, but it simply got tougher for him to shoot the ball. “I feel like I’ve always been a pretty good shooter, but I guess after I had success my first two seasons teams were focusing their defensive schemes around me, and at that point I was taking tougher threes. That could contribute to the drop in percentages”, warned Jerrick Harding. He is back to his old ways of shooting very well from outside as he is currently shooting 40% from downtown. But he isn´t only a threat on offense, but also takes a lot of pride on the defensive end, even if he doesn´t always get the credit as his abilities still seem to be a bit off the radar. “Me being able to bother people on the defensive end is something that I never got credit for. I feel like I have quick hands and have good effort on that end as well”, said Jerrick Harding. With the season winding down, he still has two opportunities to win titles and add to his cup win that he recently won with ERA Basketball Nymburk. He doesn´t take anything for granted and will forever remember that he wouldn´t be where he is today without Wichita, Weber State and Damian Lillard.