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Where Did James Harden Go To College? His Basketball Career Origins

Where did James Harden go to college? This is one of the frequently asked questions regarding the elite NBA athlete. The former MVP has amassed impressive statistics throughout his career except one.

Every basketball player’s ultimate objective is to win championships. It’s common to evaluate a player’s talent based on the number of championships won.

Harden has not won any titles, but his stats speak for themselves. Knowing where he began his basketball journey is essential for such a star. Most stars start to shine in college, and Harden is no different.

Here, we will examine James Harden’s career highlights and championship events. Most importantly, we’ll look at the college that shapes the future Hall of Famer.

Where Did James Harden Go To College?

He went to Arizona State University and made an immediate impact on the basketball team. The defender chose Arizona State because his high school teacher, Scott Pera, teaches there. 

Harden promised Pera he would accompany him to the collegiate team he registered for, and he kept his word.

After graduating from college, Harden chose Rob Pelinka as his agent. He was selected for the All-Pac-10 first team. He was taken with the third selection in the 2009 NBA draft. 

Before Harden’s NBA debut, he was frequently compared to Manu Ginobili. Scouts praised his offensive abilities, mobility, and court vision. Unfortunately, his immense size and lack of stability were perceived as his most outstanding weak points.

James Harden’s Early Career

The Oklahoma City Thunder selected him during their third in the 2009 NBA draft. They decided to get James Harden from Arizona State University because they had no shooting guard. 

Harden had an immediate positive impact on the club, which went from 23 victories to 50 in his first season.

In just two years, the Thunder had become one of the finest teams in the NBA and the second seed in the Western Conference. In 2012, Harden averaged 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. 

This earned him the Sixth Man of the Year award. The Thunder had many inexperienced players, but they lost the NBA Finals, so they dealt James Harden to the Houston Rockets.

James Harden Stepping Up in Big Championship Games

James Harden had two shots in the NBA finals. The first time was in 2012 with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the second was in 2021 with the Brooklyn Nets. 

Harden significantly contributed to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s youthful Thunder squad during Harden’s first Finals appearance. 

Harden played exceptionally well off the bench and averaged 12.4 points per game despite the team’s loss to LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

Harden was playing in his second NBA Finals with the Brooklyn Nets when he was injured in the first quarter. This restricted his playing time and contributed to the Nets’ defeat against the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Despite this, he made a significant impact during the postseason by averaging 23 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game.

At the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Harden won a gold medal with Team USA. He has yet to win an NBA championship as a significant team member. 

Undoubtedly, winning an NBA championship will remain his primary objective in the coming years.

Harden Still Hungry From His Early College Life

Harden’s mindset from him being in college remains championship or bust. He modifies his preparation, training, and recovery approach as he plays more games.

Harden is recovering from a leg injury that caused him to miss 65 games between Brooklyn and Philadelphia last season. In one month, age is catching up as the guard will turn 33.

Harden stated that the Therabody products he obtained through Endeavors in February 2021 have become essential in his life. He acknowledged that he is unable to run around like he used to before.

 “It causes you to reconsider your position. So, the missing link was spending a little extra time on my treatment and ensuring that my entire body was examined.” Harden is striving to maintain his health and improve his cadence with the Sixers. 

Unsurprisingly, he is working on his brand and enterprises off the court, especially during the offseason, given that his $74.4 million salary places him at No. 12 on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid athletes in 2022.

Harden’s Other Engagements Outside the Court

Harden inked a thirteen-year, $135 million contract with Adidas in 2015. Coca-Cola purchased BodyArmor in 2021 for a large sum he received from his company share. 

As of July 2019, Harden had also invested $15 million in the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer.

In Houston, Harden operates many Crunch fitness centers and the upscale restaurant Thirteen. On July 19, he launched J-Harden wine in collaboration with Accolade Wines. It will be available for purchase on September 1.

“Basketball is my first passion, but I have so many interests off the court,” according to Harden. “I only work with brands that are in line with my identity, values, and mission. I want everyone to be able to appreciate the partners as much as I do.”

What’s To Blame For James Harden’s Lack of Championship Wins?

Even though James Harden is undeniably a terrific athlete, he has yet to win a championship for various reasons. In the postseason, teamwork and victory have been crucial factors.

During his tenure, the Houston Rockets were one of the top teams in the league during the regular season. They should have made it past the postseason. 

This occurred partly because they relied too heavily on Harden’s marksmanship and needed other players who could contribute.

Harden has also struggled to perform at his best during crucial postseason contests due to injuries. He suffered a leg injury during the 2018 Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. 

This kept him out for an extended period and contributed to their loss. Similarly, his injury during the Nets’ 2021 playoff run diminished their odds of capturing the championship.

Despite these obstacles, Harden has focused on developing his game and assisting those around him. After being transferred to the Brooklyn Nets, he played alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. 

This afforded him a new opportunity to achieve an NBA championship. It remains to be seen if he can lead them to victory despite having a solid team and more options.

James Harden’s Humility Stretches from Way Back Then 

Harden could establish a new standard for NBA players to emulate. Even if the Sixers do not win the championship, Harden will have shown the next generation that they can go for it regardless of what the experts say if they have enough honor and money. 

In addition, if Harden wins a few championships, he could earn a great deal of money through marketing agreements and post-career opportunities.

Since the Sixers struggled to maintain a healthy work environment during Embiid’s tenure, this decision could foster tremendous goodwill among the other players, making them more willing to make sacrifices on and off the court for the team’s benefit.

Harden and teammate Joel Embiid accepted a significant pay reduction to assist the Philadelphia 76ers in assembling a championship-caliber squad. 

According to reports, he instructed Daryl Morey, president of basketball operations for the Sixers, to improve the roster, sign the players we needed to sign, and give him whatever was left over.

Harden has reached a point in his career where he is willing to sacrifice for the good of his team and, more significantly, to achieve his first NBA championship. 

Harden is willing to jeopardize much money to ultimately achieve his lifelong goal of winning a title. 

He earned $269 million as a player, and Adidas gave him over $200 million. He also made more money through other deals. Somehow, most fans view this negatively.

They won’t likely win the championship this season, but how they get there could be just as significant. 

At a time when depth is more essential than ever, and most players seem more interested in making as much money as possible than winning, giving them a slightly higher chance of winning a championship is a good idea. Better still, it may inspire you.

Many people appear upset by Harden’s decision because they either dislike him because of his past actions or are envious that their favored team’s most outstanding player will not do the same. 

That does not imply that other elite athletes like Harden should feel compelled to take a pay reduction. If so, they should be commended rather than questioned.

The NBA has a salary limit, but these steps make the league more competitive. In the postseason, the Sixers can now face the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat, and the Milwaukee Bucks, which will be entertaining to witness.

Harden could have quickly capitalized, but he did not. Instead, he did something uncommon among players: he placed his money where his mouth was. Now, we must wait to see what this decision implies for the future of the NBA.


Where did James Harden go to college? The question answered shows Harden began showcasing his talents from when he was in college. 

Harden’s ability to score from anywhere on the court and set up other players for success distinguishes him as a unique player. In eight of his ten full NBA seasons, he has played 70 or more games. 

This consistency demonstrates why he is currently considered one of the greatest players in the division.

Even with these impressive accomplishments, his resume lacks one crucial item: an NBA championship medal. An NBA athlete is officially considered one of the all-time greats upon winning a championship.