Villanova basketball has once again been one of the top teams in the nation, and it’s all behind the play of senior guard Josh Hart.
Josh Hart was hardly looked at as a serious NBA prospect before this season. His junior year saw him get a minutes bump, and was a key part of the magical championship team. Heading into his senior year at Villanova, Hart was tasked to lead the team back to glory, and so far he’s stepped up to the challenge.
Josh Hart’s offensive explosion comes behind an incredible stretch of shooting. Hart’s 20.1 points per game has him in the top 100 in scoring and it’s all due to a 45.3% three-point shooting percentage. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the season Buddy Hield saw at Oklahoma last season, before being taken sixth in the 2016 NBA Draft.
Hield averaged 25 points per game and shot 45.7% from thee-point range, acting as the funnel for the Sooner offense. Hart has less of a responsibility than Hield has, but what is interesting is their similarities in hitting unthinkable shots. Hield’s rise to near the top of the draft class was because of his incredible ability to score from anywhere on the court. Hart doesn’t have quite the scoring power, but enough to make him a serious draft candidate.
As of December 16th, DraftExpress.com has him pinned at 44th in their latest mock draft. That’s 14 slots away from the first round. There’s a serious case for a late first-round team to take a shot on the polished shooting guard as a role player. If Hart keeps up this scoring pace towards a deep Villanova tournament run, it won’t be surprising to see him creep up the draft board as the weeks go by.
Hart has good size, a decent ability to create his own shot, and a shooting stroke that seemingly always pushes the ball through the net. Defensively, Hart’s incredible 92 defensive rating is benefited from Villanova’s stifling defense, but Hart can develop into a solid perimeter defender. There’s a small chance Hart creeps up past the late-first round, as a drafted flooded with younger guard prospects will push him from the mid-first round.
The debate of senior year prospects compared to freshman prospects will always follow Hart. Hart’s four years were necessary for him to develop into an NBA-level prospect, and he should be rewarded, not punished for it in the draft. Hart will be just over 22-years old, and still will have as much potential as the 19-year old prospects.
Expect to see Josh Hart to continue to lead Villanova, and to creep up the draft boards sooner than later.