Teammates Elijah Hardy ’18 and Naseem Gaskin ’18 accomplished great things during their four years as O’Dowd men’s varsity basketball players.
They won an Open Division state championship together as freshmen, and as seniors became the first guard tandem from the same high school to sign National Letters of Intent to play basketball at Pac-12 Conference schools in the same year – Hardy signing with the University of Washington and Gaskin committing to the University of Utah.
Hardy and Gaskin have also left their mark on the O’Dowd record-book, joining an elite group of Dragons who have scored 1,000 points during their high school careers – Hardy with 1,187 points and Gaskin with 1,445 points.
“Anytime an individual – a men’s or women’s player – scores 1,000 points it’s a ‘big thing’,” varsity men’s basketball coach Lou Richie ’89 said. “But to have two people, best friends, and both guards do it in the same year is pretty incredible and has never happened before and might not ever happen again.”
Hardy said he’s honored to be in the 1,000 point club – particularly since he focused quite a bit on dishing off assists rather than scoring. “I just did whatever it took for us to win,” he said.
In fact, Richie believes Hardy is better known to fans for his tremendous passing ability. “People would leave the gym saying ‘did you see that pass?’ or ‘what court vision that kid has!’” he said.
Richie says that Hardy finished his O’Dowd career in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. “Players either didn’t come to O’Dowd because they were afraid of competing against him, or they came to compete against him and get better,” he said.
Some of Hardy’s most memorable moments as a Dragon occurred freshman year, when the team traveled the country, playing the top teams in the nation, and won the state championship.
This year was special for him because of the camaraderie developed with teammates. “I had a lot of fun with the guys this year,” he said. “And we put our heart and soul into getting as far as we did.”
The best part about playing basketball at O’Dowd was being part of such a supportive community with endless Dragon Pride, Hardy said. “The school has pride, and we take pride in winning games and being the best student-athletes we can be – on and off the court.”
“It really means a lot to me to be in the 1,000 point club because so many great players have come out of this program,” Gaskin said. “And it’s really been an honor to be able to play under a really good coach, Lou Richie, and with great players throughout my four years.”
Meanwhile, Gaskin also cemented his place as O’Dowd’s third-leading scorer (behind Ivan Rabb ’15 – 2,089 points; and Tony Jackson ’82 – 1,511 points) and is proud to hold the single-game scoring record (44), which he set in O’Dowd’s WACC league championship win over Berkeley High on February 16.
Gaskin’s favorite shot? “I can shoot from anywhere, but I really like to dunk,” he said.
Richie said that Hardy and Gaskin definitely raised the bar of guard play at O’Dowd with their tenacity, hard work and dedication.