Dane Harding joined the Albertville varsity boys basketball team as a 6-foot-2 freshman in the 2016-17 season.
Three years later, Harding has grown into a 6-foot-7 senior leader, whose height, talent and work ethic earned him an opportunity to play at the collegiate level.
The son of Patrick and Misti Harding signed a national letter of intent to play for the University of Alabama-Huntsville during a Nov. 15 ceremony in the Albertville High School South Hall. Dane will be reunited with his brother, Dillon, on the Chargers basketball team.
Dillon is a redshirt freshman for new head coach John Shulman.
“The players there, I know them well because of Dillon,” Dane Harding said of UAH. “I know the coach well, so I thought it was the best fit for me. I’ve been wanting to do this [play college basketball] my whole life.
“This offseason, I have gotten better jumping, my speed has gotten better and I’ve been working on my shot more.”
Harding participated in the AHSAA Elite 100 Basketball Showcase in the summer and was also selected to the North squad for the Alabama North-South All-Star Game.
“They were great confidence boosters for me,” Harding said. “They just helped me work harder.”
An All-Marshall County and All-Area selection, Harding averaged 12.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a junior.
“That’s where Dane wanted to play,” Albertville head coach Patrick Harding said of his son. “I told him he had options and if he wanted to wait, we could wait and do something in the spring, but he said, ‘No, Dad, this is what I wanted.’
“We’re very thankful that he’s gotten this opportunity. Obviously, it’s sweeter that his brother is there. We’re very grateful that he had the opportunity to join his brother over there.
“Dane is very skilled. He can shoot it, he’s an exceptional passer and he has a great basketball IQ. He understands the game.
“Where he needed to improve was defensively and with his footwork and just overall athleticism. He’s really worked in the past nine months to do that. He’s kind of turned into a different player. He’s more athletic, and he’s turned into a really good defensive player now for us.”
Former UAH head coach Lennie Acuff nominated Dane Harding for an NCAA-sponsored regional basketball academy in Houston this summer. It was the inaugural year for the event.
“The Elite 100 was great,” Patrick Harding said. “There was great competition down there. That’s the best of the best. When Dane went to Houston for the NCAA showcase, there were several 5-stars out there and he was on the floor with them and had some success.”
Patrick Harding wants his son to be more of a vocal leader during his senior season, as well as increase his scoring average.
“Dane’s always been a guy who’s been the third option or fourth option, and he’s going to need to be much more of a scorer,” Harding said.
“I have to remind him he can’t be pass-first all the time. We just need him to continue what he’s doing but do it at a higher clip.”
Not surprisingly, basketball is a favorite topic of discussion in the Harding home.
“It’s all the time,” Dane Harding said. “Dad is asking me questions and I’m asking him stuff. It’s 24-7 we’re talking basketball at home.”
Dane Harding said the Aggies’ goals include winning the Class 6A, Area 13 Tournament championship and advancing to the Northeast Regional at Jacksonville State.
“Our goals are bigger,” he said. “We’re basically the same team we had last year, so I expect bigger and better things this year.”