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Jaden and Amauri Hardy return to Las Vegas as teammates

Ramsey Hardy would go to both of his sons’ basketball games when they played the same night. Amauri’s at UNLV’s Thomas &Mack Center. Jaden’s at Coronado. Two gyms. One night. Didn’t matter. He wouldn’t miss either one.

But on Wednesday night, he could finally watch both of them play at one venue: Mandalay Bay’s Michelob Ultra Arena.

As teammates. As professionals.

“As a parent, you dream of it. It’s a blessing,” the eldest Hardy said. “There couldn’t have been a better spot.”

The Hardy brothers came home. Now as guards for G League Ignite, a second-year program based in Walnut Creek, California, designed as a developmental alternative for top pro prospects like Jaden. He committed to G League Ignite in May, bypassing the conventional college path as one of the top prospects in the 2022 NBA draft.

Amauri in September became the first college player to sign with Ignite after concluding his amateur career at Oregon.

The team is playing eight de facto home games in Las Vegas this season because of the Hardys. Ignite fell 115-101 to the Agua Caliente Clippers Tuesday night in its local debut.

Jaden had 24 points, seven rebounds and four steals, Amauri 13 points and six rebounds. Ramsey watched with pride.

“They have each other to talk to. To look back and talk about different situations and different things,” Ramsey said. “And to build with each other — and to be able to train with each other.”

Amauri and Jaden were four grades apart, thereby limiting their opportunities to play organized basketball together. Amauri emerged in their native Detroit as a Division I prospect. Jaden hoped to follow suit and emulate his older brother along the way.

They played on the same summer league team before Amauri’s senior year of high school. But they wouldn’t have the opportunity to be teammates again, save for informal settings like pickup games.

All the while, Amauri played at UNLV from 2017 until 2020, blossoming into an All-Mountain West guard before concluding college with one final year at Oregon. Jaden played at Coronado, emerging as the top guard prospect in the graduating class of 2021 before signing with Ignite.

Amauri learned within a few weeks of Jaden’s commitment that he, too, would have the opportunity to play with Ignite, should he so desire. The developmental aspect appealed to the elder Hardy, but so too did the opportunity to finally play alongside his younger brother.

“It’s really like a two for one, especially for my family,” Amauri said. “I can help him, being that I’ve played and have had experience playing basketball — especially in college. … Being a brother, it’s different from hearing from a coach or a teammate. I can talk to him and give him a different perspective. He trusts my expertise…helping him see the game from a different lens.”

The youngest Hardy said playing with his older brother isn’t necessarily different, per se. Sure, they’re teammates now. But they’ve always bonded over basketball and sought to push and challenge one another.

That said, Jaden realizes there is finality to the experience.

“I want to cherish this time with him. In a couple months, I’m probably not going to be with him,” Jaden said. “So (I’m) just … enjoying this time, taking it day by day. … It’s time we’re not going to be able to get back.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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