It wasn't long ago that Josh Hart was the leader of the band, the go-to guy atSidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. As a senior, he averaged 24.3 points and 13.4 rebounds at the same school attended by Sasha and Malia Obama.
But now he’s just a part of Jay Wright’s impressive ensemble at Villanova, which has been purring along quite nicely this season at 10-0. The 6-foot-5 Hart comes off the bench for the No. 7 ranked Wildcats, which admittedly has taken some adjustment.
That may change somewhere down the road, but for now he has no complaints.
"I really didn’t know what to expect coming in," said the 19-year-old sophomore, averaging 10.1 and 5.7 boards in his role as sixth man."Not starting is definitely a different feeling.But I’m embracing it.I’m coming in with energy, doing whatever I can to help the team. It’ something I’m pretty comfortable with."
Wright, however, doesn't want Hart to gettoo comfortable, because once seniors Darrun Hilliard and JayVaughnPinkston leave, the versatile Hart figures to become more of the focal point.
"He scored 35 points a game in high school, said Wright, exaggerating a bit."We just haven't needed it.But there's gonna come a timewhere we're gonna need it from him. You'll see it in the years to come. But nowhe's one of our best defensive players; an energy guy. "
While he’ s determined to maintain his focus on the current team, hearing such glowing tributes from his coach can’t help but make Josh look a bit ahead.
"That’s great to hear but I just lock into the moment,’ said Hart, who joined Hilliard as the first Wildcats to score 20 points in a game during their 85-62 romp over Temple Sunday. "I try to focus on what made me successful in high school.That’s playing hard, not worrying about touches, points or starting. I’ve grown to love being a spark off the bench. When I go in coach expects me to pick the energy up.When he trusts you enough to put you in a game with a minute left up or down by two,you don’t worry about not starting because you know he has your back."
Next up for the Wildcats is 6-3 Syracuse at their home away from home, the Wells Fargo Center Saturday.
"I think we can be a special team," said Hart, who’s done a bit of everything, shooting 59% from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range, with 17 steals and 11 blocks. "We do all the little things, but we realize we have a lot of work to do.We’re not really close to where we should be."
Neither is Hart.
"I guess my role may be bigger," conceded Hart. "When it comes I’m looking forward to it and will really embrace it on the offensive side.But I still want to stay grounded and stick to what’s made me successful.’’
Even though he’s playing a different tune with this band, Josh Hart is helping make Villanova successful, too