Dwight Hardy is headed to Italy

Former St. John's guard Dwight Hardy has signed a contract to play professional basketball in Italy next season.

Hardy, who was named first-team All Big-East and an honorable mention All-American this past season, is the newest member of Pistoia Basket -- which is based in the Tuscany region of Italy, about 30 minutes outside of Florence.

"Dwight Hardy's performance this past season set him apart as one of the best college basketball players in the country," said St. John's coach Steve Lavin. "Dwight's scoring, playmaking and leadership served as a catalyst for our team's run to the NCAA tournament and our program's resurgence. The St. John's family is happy for him as we know he will have a great experience in Italy, and will be a major contributor to Pistoia basketball."

Pistoia Basket plays in Italy's Lega Due, or second division -- and its home arena is called The Palestra (capacity: 5,200), the same name as the famed arena at the University of Pennsylvania. The league allows two Americans per team, and Hardy is replacing former University of North Carolina guard Joe Forte.

Hardy is the second member of last season's Red Storm to sign a professional contract overseas. Paris Horne will be playing for BG Gottingen in the Germany Bundesliga.