Freshman basketball players have been known to make the extra pass when given clearance to shoot 3-pointers at the varsity level.
Cassidy Hardin didn’t have to be told she had the green light twice.
Hardin, a 5-foot-10 junior for Center Grove’s girls program, has already launched 291 triples (making 103) over the first half of her high school career. She’s six points shy of 500 after averaging 13.4 last season.
Monday was the official first day of practice for girls basketball teams in Indiana.
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At Center Grove, eighth-year coach Shawn Sanders returns nine players who combined to produce 73 percent of his team’s scoring during the 2015-16 season.
Most are guards.
This means Hardin for a second consecutive year must excel at a number of spots on the floor for the Trojans to contend for a third straight sectional championship in Class 4A.
She spent the past summer playing AAU hoops for the Indiana Flight Thunder 17-under squad. The Thunder, coached by Tony Marlin, played tournaments in Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Augusta, Georgia, in July alone.
“This summer I got back into shooting from the outside a lot because I’m able to with the personnel we have,” Hardin said. “I also worked on driving to the basket, so that I’m not one-dimensional.
“And I’ve been training and lifting weights to get stronger so I can hang in there with bigger post players.”
Already coveted by numerous Division-I women’s basketball programs, Hardin, an excellent student (4.4 grade-point average), recently narrowed her choices to, in no particular order, Michigan State, Purdue and Vanderbilt.
Hardin’s fascination with becoming the best perimeter shooter possible began as a third-grader when she knocked down a 3-pointer during a game.
She was hooked.
Ever since, Hardin has been draining 3s from corners, the top of the key and her favorite locations, the left and right wing.
By the time she was a freshman, Hardin usually was on the floor for the Trojans joined by a starting front line measuring 5-10 (Bri Gliesmann), 6-1 (Regan Wentland) and 6-2 (Ali Line).
Once this trio graduated, Hardin had little choice but to expand her game offensively and defensively.
As a sophomore, Hardin produced double-digit point totals in 16 of her team’s 25 games. She stepped up for 29-point performances in a pair of regular-season outings — a victory against Whiteland and a loss to Greenwood.
She snagged a season-best 10 rebounds in Center Grove’s 69-58 overtime loss to eventual state runner-up Columbus North at regional.
“When Cassidy came into high school, she was known to be a shooter. A specialist. And that’s really all we needed her to be,” Sanders said. “Now we ask so much more of her.
“Cassidy can handle the ball. She’s been a post defender for us. But she’s a tough girl, and I’ve been impressed with how she’s stepped up to the challenge.”
Or, as any quality outside shooter might correct, step back.
Cassidy Hardin’s statistics through the first half of her girls basketball career at Center Grove High School: