James Harden, who would have been a senior this past season at ASU had he not gone to the NBA after his sophomore season, destroyed the Dallas Mavericks in a nationally televised game last night, as his Oklahoma City Thunder evened their Western Conference final series at a game each.
Harden, whose beard these days is much funkier than the one in the photo to the left, scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including two three-point daggers, as the Thunder won a critical road game, 106-100.
Harden has a complete game, and plays with a quiet confidence honed at Tempe by his college coach, Herb Sendek.
He is both athletic and creative on the court, and doesn't fear driving into the paint where the monsters dwell. That ability often opens up space for the three-pointers, which Harden lofts high into the air.
He comes off the deep Oklahoma City bench, but plays lots of minutes, and he usually is on the floor at the end of games.
We recall Harden fondly at ASU, where he obviously was the program's best player by a wide margin, but was known as a terrific teammate and all-around good guy.
The dude is just 21 years old, though he looks and plays like a veteran.
It's good to see him flourishing on the big stage on a young team that may win the whole thing this year.