Hardy is gearing up to showcase his skills in the new-look Rising Stars Challenge tonight and expected to go early in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Ahead of NBA All-Star Weekend officially tipping off in Cleveland with the new-look Rising Stars Challenge, Panini America announced they have signed an exclusive autograph trading card deal with NBA G League star Jaden Hardy, who will participate in tonight’s competition.
The Rising Stars Challenge is debuting a new format that features NBA rookies and sophomores as well as members of the G League Ignite development team competing in a four-team, three-game tournament to decide a winner.
A Detroit native, Hardy was selected to play on Team Isiah, coached by Hall of Fame Detroit Pistons legend Isiah Thomas.
The No. 2-ranked high school player in the class of 2021, Hardy is expected to be a top selection in this summer’s 2022 NBA Draft. The Rising Stars Challenge stage will do wonders to further showcase his skills against the best first- and second-year NBA players, such as LaMelo Ball, Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley and Jalen Green.
“It’s truly an honor and blessing from God to become an exclusive athlete for Panini and join their roster of other exclusive NBA athletes,” Hardy said, as first told to Boardroom. “As a kid growing up collecting Panini trading cards, to know that I’m going to have my own basketball trading card is a humbling experience. I can’t wait to get started.”
His partnership with the NBA’s exclusive trading card manufacturer includes cards for both the G League and future NBA products. Hardy will also participate in Panini marketing initiatives and be featured on packaging on a number of upcoming products.
“Jaden is an exciting young player to watch in the NBA G League and we look forward to watching him in the NBA Rising Stars Game and as he enters the NBA Draft later this year” said Panini America CEO Mark Warsop. “We are excited to have him join the Panini family. ”
In addition to their partnership announcement with Hardy, Panini will also introduce a special Colorblast emoji for All-Star Weekend alongside their exclusive memorabilia athletes such as Kevin Durant, Ja Morant, Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Anthony Edwards to engage fans across social media platforms throughout the weekend.
See an animated emoji that Panini has put out in celebration of Hardy’s appearance this All-Star Weekend below.