IN THE NEWS: DERRICK HARDIN EMERGES FOR BOYS BASKETBALL SQUAD
By Jarrod Ulrey, THISWEEKSPORTS.COM
As the members of the Worthington Christian boys basketball team filed out of the locker room Jan. 4 at Capital University following a fifth consecutive victory, senior guard Derrick Hardin took his time getting ready to leave.
There was nothing self-centered, though, about his nature as he reflected on what has been a strong first half of the season for his team and a breakthrough few weeks for him personally.
“This guy right here has been giving me the ball a lot,” Hardin said while putting his hand on sophomore guard D.J. Moore’s shoulder. “Not only him, but the rest of my teammates are getting me the ball.”
With Moore and junior guard Tyler Kindberg among a group of players who missed time in December with injuries, Hardin proved to be the steadying hand that got the Warriors through.
Hardin is averaging 18.1 points for the Warriors, who lost to Buckeye Valley 55-51 on Jan. 7 and Whitehall 48-40 on Jan. 11 but are 8-4 overall and 2-3 in the MSL-Ohio Division.
Moore, who averaged 18.4 points and was named league Player of the Year last season, missed first three games of this season with a left big toe injury.
The Warriors opened Nov. 30 with a 72-60 loss to Dayton Thurgood Marshall despite getting 33 points from Hardin.
With Kindberg out for the first eight games, Worthington Christian also lost to Grandview 66-42 on Dec. 13 in what could only be described by coach Kevin Weakley as “a bottoming point.”
“We’re starting to get healthy,” Weakley said. “Early in the season, Grandview put it on us. We weren’t healthy, we weren’t playing well and we weren’t having good practices. Sometimes you have to have those times where you have to hit the bottom. I’ve always believed that when you hit the bottom, you bounce. We started having better practices and getting guys back. We’re starting to have a little bit of cohesion.”
Much of what the Warriors have built started with Hardin, who averaged 11.8 points and was third-team all-district last season.
He had 22 points, including six 3-pointers, in a 60-49 win over St. Charles on Jan. 4.
Hardin and his brother, senior Nakimba Mullins Jr., along with Kindberg were among the contributors in the 2017-18 season when the Warriors finished 9-14.
Mullins Jr. is another player who has been battling injuries after being one of the team’s leading scorers last season.
“My dad (Nakimba Mullins Sr.) is a basketball junkie and we play basketball all the time,” said the 6-foot-2 Hardin, who has received interest from several colleges, including Wheeling and Ohio Northern.
Nakimba Mullins Sr. is a 1993 Worthington Christian graduate who was a senior when Weakley was a freshman.
“We’re really proud of (Hardin) because he’s one of those program kids and has really taken to coaching,” Weakley said. “If you look at him as a freshman and sophomore to where he is now, he’s taken our coaching and invested all of that time and energy when no one watches in the gym. He’s significantly better than he was a year ago. He’s playing both ends of the floor, competing, taking much better shots and his shooting percentage is higher than it’s ever been because his shot selection is better. He’s a senior and that’s what you’d expect from someone who loves the program.