In the words of Three Rivers coach Gene Bess, the Raiders got a good one.
On Monday, Poplar Bluff senior Dominique Hardimon signed his Letter of Intent to play basketball for Three Rivers. An assortment of things factored into Hardimon’s decision to sign with the Raiders.
“It just felt good going there and everybody appreciated me,” Hardimon said. “It was just a good choice for me because most of my friends are going there, and when I played basketball with them it just connected really good.”
Hardimon racked up a ton of solid numbers during his three years at Poplar Bluff. He finished third on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,438 points, an average of 19.4 points per game. He also averaged nine rebounds and 1.7 steals per game, increasing his averages each season.
During his freshman year at Portageville, he scored 438 points, bringing his career total to 1,876. Hardimon was named All-Conference three times, All-District three times and All-State twice. He was the SEMO Conference Player of the Year, and the SEMO Conference scoring leader.
“He’s got a good motor. That goes a long way in this day and age,” Bess said. “It reminds me of a lot of my older Raider players that we’ve brought in here. I like his maturity and his judgement. And I know he’s a really good person off the floor. He’s just the whole package. We’re just really pleased for him to come here, and we hope we can help him develop and go where he wants to go when he leaves here.”
Three Rivers is right at home for Hardimon, and that was another big factor in his decision. He wanted to be close to his family and the people around the community who want to see him play.
“That played into it a lot, especially with my family,” Hardimon said. “They get to come to my every home game, and a lot of people wanted to watch me play. I just felt good going there.”
Bess feels good about the kind of player he’s getting in Hardimon. Despite his 6-foot-3-inch height, Hardimon has a 220-pound frame that keeps him from getting moved around in the paint. Three Rivers needs that kind of rebounder, someone who nearly averaged a double-double in points and rebounds, after struggling on the glass throughout last season.
Poplar Bluff coach Will Durden played for Three Rivers from 2001-03 and spent seven years as an assistant at Three Rivers, so he knows what kind of skills Hardimon will gain playing for the program, both on and off the court.
“We learned life lessons every day at Three Rivers when we played there,” Durden said. “We tried to bring that philosophy into our program here.”
Both Bess and Durden raved about Hardimon’s motor on the court, noting Three Rivers got a hustle player who will never take plays off.
“I think they got a great one, great character kid. He’s going to be very low-maintenance as far as off-the-court stuff. He’s going to do his part in the classroom. One of the things that we’re going to miss here is that when that ball goes up, he’s going to play as hard as he possibly can,” Durden said. “There’s not going to be a person that’s going to outwork him. I think he’s going to be one of those throwback Three Rivers players.”
Academically, Hardimon plans to study physical therapy.
Off the court, Hardimon exemplifies exactly what Bess is trying to get in a person.
“We’re trying to bring in people of character,” Bess said. “You know, you can take a chance on one or two from time to time, year to year. But people without character don’t last long in our program.”
Hardimon’s character comes from the people he’s had around him to help him grow as a person, whether it’s Durden, his parents, his brother or his friends.
“(Durden) taught me basketball, but he also taught me life decisions on how to be a better man and how to be a better person in life and how to treat people good,” Hardimon said. “It’s been good, especially with my parents around helping me, driving me places, keeping my head up and doing good things.”
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic