As a ’10-’11 junior Hart had more than respectable numbers out of his 2 spot. 15.7 Points and an impressive 7.3 Rebounds placed the Shooting guard on the radar as one to watch in the Class of ’13. Those numbers however, dwarf in comparison to #3’s junior (’11-’12) campaign. Hart dialed-up his production to the tune of 20.0 Points and 11.6 Rebounds per game. A double-double game, let alone an entire season averaging the mark, is uncommon for a Shooting guard. Mix in an Assist-to-Turnover ratio above 1.00 (1.15) and Field Goal numbers right at (.500), and you move from the uncommon to the rarefied air of a 4-Star ranking and recognition as one of the fastest rising ’13 prospects. Hart is known for a high level motor and a physical/attacking style of play. At 6’4 200lbs Hart brings a Small/Power Forward mindset in a Shooting guard frame. Not a jump out of the building athlete, Hart can play above the rim and appears comfortable and effective scoring through contact. He displays high level timing when rebounding and again appears effective when battling for the ball and absorbing contact. Hart shot 40% from beyond the arc as a sophomore and saw that number drop to 24% as a junior. The increase in attempts (3.8pg as a Jr., 2.6pg as a So.) may explain the drop in efficiency. Hart attempted (26.7%) of Sidwell’s ’11-’12 Field Goals. Anything above 25% is significant and generally results in a corresponding drop in efficiency/effectiveness.
Projecting Hart at the NCAA level is difficult. If he continues growing (currently 6’4 200lbs) and gets to the 6’6 210lb range, I see Hart as a high level contributor out of the 3 spot. His physicality and Rebound productivity, coupled with the ability to score at range and in the lane, appear well-suited for a Small forward role. If however, Hart’s height has maxed, he should also prove an effective 2 with the ability to play an occasional 1. Consistency from beyond the arc needs to improve, as does ball security, but Hart’s strong work ethic provide me confidence both areas will develop into strengths.
When asked to detail his areas of opportunity for improvement Hart was again on point and forthright “I need to work on my ball handling because I’m being recruited as a 1-2 combo guard… Also my mid-range game. I pick up a couple offensive fouls a game so to keep myself out of foul trouble I will need to make that a key part of my game.” The young man appears to possess keen self-awareness and lacks the false bravado of many peers. For ’11-’12 Hart committed 62 Personal Fouls, or approximately 2.4 per game. Not alarming, but there were half a dozen or so games during which he committed at least 4 PF’s and as a result may have lost valuable minutes. His aggressive to the hoop style and high level Rebounding invite return contact. Body control and discipline will be paramount if his frame continues to fill out. Hart attempted 140 Free Throws last season and will need to improve on his 65% success rate. A bump to 75% would have added almost a full point to his season average of 20 per game. The aforementioned A/TO ratio of 1.15 works as a Small forward, is reasonable from a Shooting guard, but will not get it done from the Point. If, as mentioned, Hart is recruited as “a 1-2 combo guard” he will need to improve the ratio. Dialing down the Offensive fouls is a start and it appears there is move to tighten up his dribble/handles. Improved shot selection and FT efficiency could establish Hart as a consistent 15-17 Point per game scorer at the next level and 7-8 rebounds doesn’t strike me as a stretch. Multiple All-Conference (NCAA) selections appear well within reason.
Although each of Hart’s responses was informative, one in particular stood out. When asked to share a personal item most people are not aware of, “I’m a Christian and grew up in the church and give my lord and savior Jesus Christ the credit for my success. With that being said I’m still a kid. I love to just sit on the couch and watch cartoons with my sister and just try to stay out of trouble. I will make mistakes but will always learn from those mistakes.” Again, the wisdom, savvy, and self-awareness of an adult in the physically gifted frame of a High school basketball player. Josh Hart may realize one of his goals and someday play in the NBA, or it may come professionally in playing overseas. Far more certain, he’ll graduate with a college degree, he’ll establish himself as an effective leader (professionally/personally), and he’ll maintain a well-grounded footing based in conviction, work ethic, and personal accountability. Next level success is all but inevitable, and a portion may involve a basketball.