LaQuill Hardnett entered the NCAA’s transfer portal two weeks ago, and he estimates that he communicated with University at Buffalo men’s basketball coach Jim Whitesell nearly every day that he weighed joining a new program.
The constant communication paid off. Hardnett announced Tuesday night on his Instagram account that he will transfer to UB after a season at Cincinnati.
Hardnett, a 6-foot-8 forward from Philadelphia, redshirted last season at Cincinnati, and told The News that he will seek an eligibility waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play immediately at UB; Hardnett received his release from Cincinnati, but under NCAA guidelines, players who transfer as undergraduates must sit out a year of competition unless they receive an eligibility waiver.
“I really liked the atmosphere that UB has and the culture it’s built over the last couple years,” said Hardnett, who has four years of eligibility remaining. “The style of offense fits my game, perfectly, and I’ll fit right in at UB.
“There’s a lot of positive energy there, and they’re progressing. I feel like I can be a part of something that they can build.”
Hardnett, who plans to study psychology at UB, can play multiple positions and believes his versatility will help the Bulls.
“That’s a huge part of the UB offense,” Hardnett said.
Hardnett went to high school at Perry Hall in Baltimore and averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds and four assists as a senior as the school repeated as state champions. He had 31 points and 12 rebounds in the state title game. He had offers from Western Kentucky and St. Bonaventure, among others, coming out of high school.
Hardnett said that he visited UB during his senior year of high school in 2017-18 and that Cincinnati and UB were originally his top two choices. When Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin took the same job at UCLA in April, Hardnett began to consider a transfer, and he also considered Coastal Carolina and Texas A&M.
“I really had a connection with Mick Cronin, and I wanted to play under him,” Hardnett said. “Mick leaving was a big part of (transferring). When he left … that was the whole reason I went there in the first place.”
The Bulls lost an entire recruiting class in the initial weeks after Nate Oats’ departure to become Alabama’s head coach on March 27.
But in about three months on the job, Whitesell – who was Oats’ assistant for four seasons — has reassembled a recruiting class that includes Hardnett, Josh Mballa, a 6-foot-8 forward and a transfer from Texas Tech who has three years of eligibility remaining; David Nickelberry, a 6-foot-6 wing and a junior-college transfer from Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College; David Skogman, a 6-foot-10 forward from Wisconsin; and Savion Gallion, a 6-foot-4 guard from Washington, D.C. Skogman and Gallion will be freshmen this season, while Nickelberry will have two seasons years of eligibility.
A UB spokesman said that an eligibility waiver has been filed that would allow Mballa to play immediately. UB, however, cannot comment on Hardnett, as he has not officially signed with the Bulls as of Tuesday afternoon.
Hardnett expects to be on campus this weekend.
“The first thing I want to do is get some shots up,” Hardnett said.