Josh Hart: Villanova’s Unheralded Star

Posted by Justin Kundrat on March 15th, 2015

What makes for a good sixth man? Is it a guy who brings scoring punch off the bench; is it a senior leader who offers experience and mentorship? Or is it something that transcends the stat sheet in the form of hustle plays, position versatility and a willingness to do whatever the team needs in order to win? There may not be a singular definition that works in all cases, but the best sixth men tend to be players who can fill in and contribute in numerous ways. Through just two years into his college career, Villanova’s Josh Hart has become the prototypical ‘glue guy’, acting largely behind the scenes while Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidiacono collect all the individual accolades.

Josh Hart Was the BIg East Tourney MVP Coming Off the Bench (USA Today Images)

Josh Hart Was the BIg East Tourney MOP Coming Off the Bench (USA Today Images)

Within two minutes of entering the lineup against Xavier yesterday, the Big East Sixth Man of the Year had registered four points, a rebound and a blocked shot. It didn’t take long for the 6’5″ sophomore to make an impact on the game, and his multifaceted presence over the last several is a large reason why Villanova left New York City as the Big East champs. He had a highly efficient set of games there, going 7-of-10 in the first two and scoring 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the championship win on Saturday. At a time when Hilliard, Arcidiacono and Dylan Ennis were all struggling to find a rhythm against Providence, his timely baskets kept Villanova safely in the lead down the stretch. “You know what. Honestly, he’s about halfway there to what he can be. He really can be great player… To do it in all these big games, it just shows you talent, character and also shows you how much better he can get,” Jay Wright said following Hart’s recognition as the Big East Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

Yet Hart’s impact goes far beyond his scoring. At just 6’5″ in stature, Hart looks like a guard but his rebounding and defensive abilities have made him a valuable asset at virtually any position on the floor. Wright will frequently use Hart as a shooting guard against bigger teams only to play him as a stretch four should the team need another outside shooter. Above all else, though, Hart’s added value can be found in his frequent hustle plays: diving for loose balls, sprinting across the court to pick up an open shooter, or being the first one downcourt for an easy layup in transition. When asked about what makes Hart so special following the win over Providence on Friday night, Wright was quick to answer. “I’m glad you give me a chance to say that. There is something special about him. He’s good enough to be a starter. We have him penciled in as a starter preseason, and Dylan Ennis just had a ridiculous summer and fall.” In other words, Hart has the tools and talent to play as a starter, but he has instead embraced his role as a big-time spark off the bench. In both years of his short career at Villanova, Hart has ranked among the top 35 of KenPom’s offensive player ratings.

In the era of complete media saturation, it’s rare for such an impactful player to go relatively unrecognized in the midst of a 32-2 Big East championship season. But for Villanova’s exceptional sixth man, none of that matters. He’s just doing his job, making his teammates better, and doing the little things needed to win the game. “The day he won the Sixth Man Award, I called his mom and dad and said, ‘Just because of you guys, the character you built in him,’ and his parents don’t complain. His parents say, ‘Hey, you’re the sixth man. Be the best sixth man.’ That’s what he did, and that’s unusual.”

Justin Kundrat (175 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at

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