Villanova Basketball: Josh Hart continues to shine in the Summer League

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

In his second summer with the Los Angeles Lakers, ex-Villanova Wildcats basketball star Josh Hart looks like a perfect complement to LeBron James.

When Josh Hart made his transition from Wildcat superstar scorer to the NBA, the entirety of Nova Nation knew he was going to be good, but who could have expected that he’d be the player to put Villanova basketball back on the maps in the NBA?

Now granted, that’s not a particularly high bar to clear, as there are only nine former Villanova players even in the NBA, highlighted by borderline star Kyle Lowry, but still, Hart deserves credit for what he’s been able to do in only one season in the league.

And if this summer is of any indication he could be getting even better.

After averaging a solid 7.9 points in roughly 23.2 minutes a game while knocking down almost 40 percent of his 3-point shots as a rookie, Hart has absolutely exploded onto the national scene in his second summer as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Now the summer Lakers’ focal point after having to share the spotlight with the likes of Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma last summer, Hart has almost single-handedly willed his team to the Los Vegas Summer League championship game, earning spot on the All-NBA Summer League First Team and a coveted Summer League MVP award in the process.

Averaging an impressive 24.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals a game, Hart has looked like a man among boys while playing under coach Miles Simon and is quickly carving out a place in Lakers fans’ hearts with each 30-plus point performance this summer.

One such fan? None other than the new King of LA himself, LeBron James.

In the team’s performance against the Detroit Pistons, James sat courtside and was visibly enthused by Hart’s play, even chatting with the second-year guard on the sideline. Granted, this could all be for not, as Hart has been included in a number of potential trade scenarios for players like Kawhi Leonard and Damian Lillard, but after stockpiling his new team with non-shooters like Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson, a player like Hart who can routinely knock down 40-plus percent of his 3-point shots could have a prolific year when paired with one of the best passers in league history.

Not bad for the 30th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft.

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With one game left to play at the Thomas & Mack Center, Hart and his Lakers will be taking on Zach Collins and the Portland Trail Blazers for a shot at a Summer League Champions. After almost 20 years, it looks like the Los Angeles Lakers may have once again struck (purple and) gold on a Philly-area shooting guard with that Mamba mentality.