INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) – Two exemplary men's college
basketball players will share the 2022 Perry Wallace Most
Courageous Award. Texas guard Andrew Jones,
who has displayed courage since his leukemia diagnosis in 2018,
and Washington (Mo.) University forward Justin Hardy,
who has been his team's second-leading scorer while battling stomach
cancer, have both demonstrated extraordinary courage reflecting
honor on amateur basketball.
Jones had just turned 20 and was the Longhorns' leading scorer
before his diagnosis, which caused him to miss a significant portion
of two seasons as he underwent chemotherapy treatments. He rejoined
his team for the 2018-19 season and played in two games as he continued
his treatments, which he completed in September 2019. Last season,
Jones started 26 of 27 games and led the Longhorns with 14.6 points
per game and was third with 2.3 assists per game for second-team
All-Big 12 honors. The Irving, Texas, product returned for a sixth season this year and
averages 10.9 points for No. 22 Texas.
Jones' impact has stretched beyond the court. He has inspired
many through sharing his journey and has shown additional courage
through his leadership. Jones recently announced he will donate
a portion of money received through his name, image and likeness
deals to the V Foundation for cancer research.
"The money donated to the V Foundation played a major part not
only in my ability to receive proper treatment but maintain confidence
in both my recovery and eventual return to basketball," Jones said
in a statement. "To be able to share my story on how this
foundation has impacted my life while paying that forward to
future families impacted by cancer is an honor."
It's fitting that Jones shares the award this year with Hardy,
a Washington University senior from St. Charles, Ill.
He accurately has described himself as "fearless."
After being diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer a year ago, Hardy
has continued to compete for the Bears while undergoing treatments.
At first, the 6-foot-5 forward worried about losing his athleticism
and could barely jump more than a few inches; this season, he dunked.
Hardy is second on the team with 11 points per game and is shooting
48 percent from the field while leading the Bears with 5.9 rebounds
per game. He was named to the All-University Athletic Association
first team this season.
In his Senior Night game, fans wore "Hardy Strong"
T-shirts to show their support.
Hardy has come to practices and played in games shortly after
receiving treatments. He also took part in an internship last
summer near his home in Chicago and worked his way back into
shape after losing 50 pounds, according to the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch. He graduated in December with a business
administration degree, while resuming tutoring students in
calculus and statistics.
Basketball, he's said, has been an outlet for him. "From
a mental standpoint, it was the best thing that could have happened
for me," he told the Post-Dispatch. "You have the worst
thing possible happening, and you get to experience the thing that
brings the most joy. We're having a phenomenal year. It all lines
up perfectly. I didn't think this was possible."
The USBWA has presented a Most Courageous Award since the 1977-78
season. Last season, the men's Most Courageous Award was named in
honor of Perry Wallace, the SEC's first Black athlete to play a
full four-year career in any sport. Yesterday, Since 2012, the association
has recognized winners from both men's and women's basketball. Kendall
Currence of Northeastern was named the winner of the Pat Summitt
Most Courageous Award. Jones and Hardy will be honored at the upcoming
Men's Final Four in New Orleans.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was
formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter
Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential
organizations in college basketball. It has selected an All-America
team since the 1956-57 season. For more information on the USBWA
and its award programs, contact executive director Malcolm Moran
All-time Most Courageous