Reached last night, Vaughn said he had spoken a short time earlier, by telephone, with Strawberry Mansion star Devonté "DJ" Newbill, who is bound for Marquette.
"He kept saying, 'Don't tell me John has passed,' " Vaughn said. "I could tell he was in tears."
Since about the mid-1990s, at sites that changed through the years, from spring through early fall, Hardnett supervised workout sessions involving players all the way from high school to college to overseas pros to even NBA stalwarts. Out-of-town agents would even send clients to Hardnett's sessions.
There'd be drills, then pickup games of 3-on-3, then 5-on-5, and Hardnett would supervise with his ever-present tough-love, yet nurturing, approach.
Curt Hall, who helped Hardnett with the sessions, said this year's batch was to have started yesterday. He said numerous friends tried unsuccessfully to contact Hardnett, and his body was ultimately discovered at his home. Hall said Hardnett had suffered health problems stemming from diabetes.
"John had that passion," Vaughn said. "He loved to make the guys improve. And he did just that. A lot of guys were average when they started with John. And they got better and better. Mardy Collins, Dionte Christmas, Aaron McKie . . .
"So many guys wound up with pretty nice lives, thanks to John. This is hitting a lot of people hard. Very hard."
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.