Former Morgan Park standout Destiny Harden ready for golden opportunity with Phoenix Mercury

Harden was selected by the Phoenix Mercury with the 27th overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft.

SHARE Former Morgan Park standout Destiny Harden ready for golden opportunity with Phoenix Mercury
Miami’s Destiny Harden (3) shoots against Indiana’s Sydney Parrish (33) during the NCAA Tournament.

Miami’s Destiny Harden (3) shoots against Indiana’s Sydney Parrish (33) during the NCAA Tournament.

Darron Cummings/AP

There was a moment during the 2022 ACC women’s basketball tournament that exemplified Destiny Harden’s confidence.

Rather, there was 15 points worth of moments, as Harden went on a 15-0 run to close the game, including a turnaround, fadeaway jumper from the corner at the buzzer to topple No. 4 Louisville 61-59 in the quarterfinals.

Watching from afar, not at all shocked, was Harden’s former Mac Irvin Fire AAU coach and current assistant at Mississippi State, Corry Irvin.

“It was the same fadeaway shot she’s been shooting since the eighth grade,” Irvin said. “I knew her coach was probably like what the heck are you doing, but she’s always hit that shot.”

Harden’s nickname on the court growing up was “Wild Thang.”

Irvin said she earned it because of the intensity she played with. By the end of the game, there wasn’t an inch of the court she hadn’t touched. She hounded players defensively, and offensively she was wherever she needed to be to make a winning play.

Those are the characteristics she’s bringing into training camp after being selected by the Mercury with the 27th overall pick in this year’s WNBA Draft.

“I’m going into training camp being myself,” Harden said. “Willing to be coachable and learn every single day and just see where I can help. But also ready to work and work hard.”

Harden graduated from Morgan Park in 2017 and played her freshman season at West Virginia before transferring to Miami. In her final season with the Hurricanes, she averaged a career-high 11.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and two assists and started 32 of 33 games.

Playing in the WNBA was a goal inspired by two-time WNBA champion and Chicago-area legend Candace Parker.

“I wanted to play just like her,” Harden said. “As a little kid, you always think ‘I want to be just like this person.’ As you get older, it turns out different. But I love her game, love who she is. That’s why I wear the No. 3.”

Now that the fairy-tale moment of being drafted is over, Harden is facing the steep uphill climb of being one of the 144 players to make a WNBA roster.

Irvin believes what makes her uniquely qualified for the challenge is having sharpened her skills on the courts in Chicago.

“Kids from Chicago play with a chip on their shoulder,” Irvin said. “They’re super tough. They’re going to play hard regardless of the circumstances, and they’re always going to make a decision to win. They’re not like that everywhere.”

WNBA training camps open Sunday, and Harden will be tasked with trying to make a roster with Hall of Fame-caliber players. Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard has six protected veterans, including Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner.

In total, the Mercury have 19 players on their roster with the cap space to potentially sign six. They’re one of the few teams in the league that don’t have a solidified group beyond their six protected veterans. Included in that group is Skylar Diggins-Smith, who announced her second pregnancy in October and has made no indication of what her availability will be this season.

Despite the star-studded roster, Harden isn’t feeling any pressure. Like when she hit her buzzer-beating fadeaway, she is ready for this moment.

“Going in there with all these legends, I’m willing to learn whatever they’re trying to tell me,” Harden said. “I can learn from them, but maybe they can also learn from me. So I just want to go into training camp, soak up all their knowledge and be a sponge to them.”

The Latest
In uncharacteristically hushed tones during a speech that later pivoted to his populist agenda, Trump gave an account of the shooting which he said “you will never hear from me a second time because it’s actually too painful to tell.”
Jim Allen, head of the property’s new owner, Florida-based Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming, said work would “literally start tomorrow” to raze the volcano, which rumbled and gushed nightly for nearly 35 years.
The girl was crossing a street when the driver of a silver SUV ran a red light and hit her. She was hospitalized in critical condition, police said.
The Bears are ready to win. When their veterans report to Halas Hall for training camp Friday, they’ll carry that responsibility with them.