SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – From a Utah Jazz summer intern back in 2009 when he passed out flyers at Salt Lake Bees games, to becoming now just the sixth head coach in franchise history, it has been quite a ride for Will Hardy.

“It still seems surreal,” he said.

Hardy was introduced to the media on Tuesday for the first time since being hired as Quin Snyder’s replacement last week.

“I want to thank Ryan, Danny, Justin and the organization for entrusting me with this great responsibility,” Hardy said. “It’s an amazing opportunity, and its not one that I take lightly.”

The search was extensive, as some 15 candidates were interviewed over the course of three weeks. But the Jazz brass is thrilled with its decision.

“We couldn’t be more excited from an ownership group,” said Jazz owner Ryan Smith. “It was unanimous. As we were looking at Will and we saw everything that he stands for, and the way that Will has taken advantage of absolutely every single opportunity that he’s had.”

So what does Hardy stand for? Well, three things in particular.

“Toughness, sacrifice and passion are the three things that are most important to me,” he said. “I want our group to be deeply competitive and able to deal with adversity.”

At 34, Hardy is the youngest coach in the NBA, but to him, age is just a number.

“I really don’t think about it maybe as much as you guys do,” Hardy said. “I am 34 and I’m fine with that. I look forward to just building this relationships very honestly and candidly.”

“Yeah, he’s 34 years old, but he didn’t feel 34 to us,” added Jazz CEO of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. “We didn’t really pay much attention to that. He just seemed very mature and very prepared. There was a lot of really good candidates, so winning this competition, for lack of a better word, was pretty impressive for Will.”

While the Jazz roster is in flux, especially in the wake of the Rudy Gobert trade, Hardy says he has full trust in Ainge in the roster decisions going forward, if if that includes a full rebuild.

“Through all our conversations, Danny, Justin and Ryan were very honest about there are multiple paths this team could take,” Hardy said. “I don’t necessarily have a preference. I look forward to the partnership with them and doing this together.”

Hardy did speak with Donovan Mitchell, who he helped coach with Team USA.

“I was fortunate to see Donovan,” he said. “He and I have a pre-existing relationship from the 2019 World Cup with Team USA. So, it was great to kind of pick up where we left off. Obviously things have changed for both of us since then. I’ve spoken to all the guys and they’re all very excited.”

Hardy says working under the winningest head coach in NBA history, Gregg Popovich for four years years taught him invaluable lessons.

“Pop was such a great mentor for me as well as countless coaches in this league,” he said. “He’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever been around in my life. So for myself, my wife and our two little girls, we’re really excited about joining this community. Thank you for opening us with open arms, and it’s time to get to work.”

Hardy will begin working on hiring a coaching staff as he works with his new team during Summer League. Hardy said he will consider retaining some of the current Jazz assistants.

“We’re working through the staff stuff now,” he said. “Like Danny said, there’s a lot of great coaches in the NBA, and a bunch of those coaches are already here. So, I’m taking this time to get to know them and have them get to know me so we can put together the best group that we can.”