Northwestern coach Chris Collins announced Friday he retained Tavaras Hardy as the first member of his coaching staff.
Hardy, a former Northwestern player, was on former Wildcats coach Bill Carmody's staff for the last seven seasons and was the associate head coach for the last two years. Hardy was the lead recruiter for a number of Northwestern's top players, including John Shurna and Drew Crawford, and was on staff for four consecutive NIT appearances.
"I'm thrilled to have Tavaras as a member of our coaching staff," Collins said in a statement. "His first-hand experience as a student-athlete at Northwestern is a tremendous asset to the program in that he understands what a special place this is and what it takes to be successful here. He is an outstanding talent in our profession and has a great understanding of the game. Tavaras has an excellent ability to communicate with young players which makes him a terrific recruiter and mentor."
Hardy said Friday he looked at other options in the past few weeks, but his allegiance to Northwestern won out.
"At the end of the day, this was an opportunity to look at different situations," Hardy said by phone. "I've never done that. There were some interesting things out there. It was good to have people reach out. It was good that people wanted me. But every night I went to sleep and every morning I awoke, I was thinking about Northwestern. I think we have a good thing going, and I think coach Collins is going to help to take that to the next level, and I wanted to be a part of it."
Hardy doesn't believe Northwestern is far off from clearing it next hurdle -- reaching the NCAA tournament.
"I think we got to keep pushing forward," Hardy said. "As (athletic director Jim Phillips) said when he introduced coach Collins, there's a bigger, brighter future for Northwestern. We have to improve every aspect of this game. We got to recruit harder. We got to get players better. One of the things I like about coach Collins is how he talks about building a winning culture. That has to hold true in everything we do. Guys have to walk, talk and think like winners and get better every day. We have to go out and win games."
Hardy also believes Northwestern's high academic requirements and older facilities won't hold the program back.
"Kids are attracted to universities for different reasons," Hardy said. "At the end of the day, we have a great product across the board. Some kids will lean toward academics, and it's a win for Northwestern. Some kids will choose based on playing time and playing in a great conference like the Big Ten, and that's a winning situation for Northwestern. The bells and whistles the other schools have may weigh in with some kids, but the way we're going to build our program are with kids who care about the important things and that won't be a factor for us."
Hardy also expressed gratitude for the chance first given to him by Carmody. Hardy played and coached for Carmody at Northwestern.
"I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity coach Carmody gave me to coach under him," Hardy said. "He changed my game when I was a player. I have the utmost respect for him and utmost appreciation for him helping me throughout my playing days and coaching career."