In September, six years after graduating, former Eph basketball player Will Hardy ’10 was named an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. This is one of several positions Hardy has held for the Spurs since starting as a basketball operations intern in the summer of 2010.
His new position builds on the work he has been doing over the past few years with the Spurs. Though player development was not his central focus before, “I was a part of helping with player development the whole time. I have been around it for six years, helping player development coaches with the workouts.” Now, player development is his main responsibility.
“I work with a lot of the young guys and do skill development stuff on the court with them.” He also helps put the game plan together with Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich and assists with working the players out on the court.
Hardy first connected with the Spurs two weeks before graduating from the College. While in Williamstown, he had become close with Curt Tong, a former Williams basketball coach who was still living in town. Tong knew Popovich from when they attended Pomona together and told Hardy he should think about applying for a job with the Spurs.
“It was kind of like one of those very lucky connections that was made two weeks before graduation,” Hardy said. Although coaching was on his radar, as a senior English major, Hardy was not set on it as a career path.
When he decided to apply for this position, the Spurs had four championships under their belt. Hardy had mainly followed college basketball up until this point, but was also interested in the world of the NBA. Since Hardy joined the organization, the Spurs have also won a fifth title.
After starting as a basketball operations intern, Hardy then worked as the team’s video coordinator. For the past two summers, he has also been the head coach of the Spurs Summer League team in Utah.
Hardy’s long stay with the same team is fairly unique in the NBA. “The way it generally works is people bounce around,” he said. “I feel very lucky to still be in San Antonio and be with an organization like the Spurs. I have been really lucky to be with them and put some roots down in San Antonio. I met my wife here. San Antonio is home for the moment.”
In his years with the Spurs, as he has continued to develop his own coaching philosophy, Hardy has kept in touch with former Eph teammates and coaches, sharing ideas about different aspects of coaching and life in the NBA.
Current head Williams basketball coach Kevin App, who was an assistant coach during Hardy’s college career, has visited Hardy several times since Hardy has been with the Spurs.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Will and his development as a coach in San Antonio,” App said. “There isn’t a better head coach or organization to learn from than Coach Popovich and the Spurs. Will has coupled the strong understanding of basketball he demonstrated as a player with his intelligence and personality to make the most of his opportunities.”
In addition to his work with App, in his time on the Williams team, Hardy played under former Williams head coaches Dave Paulsen ’87 and Mike Maker. In his senior year, the team finished second in NCAA Div. III.
“Finishing second was an incredible experience. I don’t think anybody really thought we were going to get that far.” Hardy also has fond memories of the team’s European tour the summer before his junior year.
Current Williams Assistant Coach Brian Emerson ‘12, who overlapped with Hardy for two seasons as a player, also still talks to Hardy: “Even though we are at very different levels of coaching, the experiences are very similar.”
“He was always a very smart player who understood the game really well,” Emerson said. “He was a great resource to answer questions in practice about the offense and what were trying to do.”
Now, as an assistant coach, Hardy says that his coaching philosophy is a combination of all the coaches he has ever played for.
“You take stuff from people all the time,” he said. “Learning what you like [and] what you don’t like. I don’t think I have modeled myself after one person, but I have definitely taken stuff from all of them. Coach Maker and I and Kevin App, we still talk all the time; I still pick their brains now and I think I always will.”
After about two months in his new position, Hardy is continuing to enjoy and learn from his new place on the team.
“I’m just enjoying my new perspective a little bit, getting to continue to work for Coach Pop and try to carry out his message to our players,” Hardy said. “A huge part of my role is just trying to help with the players each day. Getting to work with them one on one. I am excited about those relationships.”