The Washington, D.C. native cut his list to three finalists — Penn State, Rutgers and Villanova — and seems to have a good idea of where he’ll play college basketball.
“I felt like [cutting my list] was the right thing to do, talking to my coaches,” Hart told NRS. “Those schools [who didn't make it] are more on the outside looking in and it’s starting to get a little late in the recruiting period. A lot of people commit now and I don’t want a school to make me a top priority and keep them around and me not go there. They could possibly suffer because they could not get somebody else at the position they need. We just felt it would be the best thing for both sides.”
In Hart’s mind, what separated his three finalists from the rest of the pack was two things: the amount of attention they gave him and his relationship with the coaching staffs.
“Over everything, I’ve known all of the coaches for a while,” he said. “Everybody in the country kind of thought I was a done deal to Georgetown but those schools — Rutgers a little bit — Penn State and Villanova were on me hard trying to build a relationship with me. That really stuck out to me.”
Further explaining why each of these three schools made his final list, Hart broke down what stands out about each school and why he could potentially end up at any of them:
Penn State: “I love the coaching staff; it’s just really high character guys. Not just them but all three of my schools are within three hours of where my parents would be so that’s a positive. Also the style of play, they have an opening at my position so those are always great.”
Rutgers: “I love [head] coach [Mike] Rice. He kind of reminds me of [my Team Takeover AAU coach] Keith Stevens because of the intensity he brings and the passion for the game that he has. He’s going to push you and make you uncomfortable but he’s always going to be in your corner and take care of you. He’s going to push you to be the best player you can be on and off the court so that’s always a great attribute for a coach to have.”
Villanova: “Villanova is also a group of high character guys. I think Villanova over everyone hasn’t really negatively recruited — Penn State hasn’t really. [Head] coach [Jay] Wright is a high character guy; they do it the right way no matter what so that really stuck out to me. Besides that, they’re a great coaching staff and do a great job of developing guards, it’s close to home and the guys on the team are great — I talk to [freshman guard] Dylan Ennis the most, probably about every other day. The relationships that I have with the players and coaches and style of play is the reason why they’re in the top three.”
Among those three schools, Hart was able to identify which coaching staff he has developed the best relationship with, which is important since he says that’s a big factor in his decision.
“The most important thing is probably the relationship I have with the coach,” he added. “They have to be a high character guy and then the relationship I have with the players. The best relationship I have is with the Penn State coaching staff just because I’ve known them for about two years now. [Head] coach [Patrick] Chambers came in my first year at Sidwell when he was at Boston University recruiting [Pennsylvania freshman point guard] Jamal [Lewis] so we kind of started building a relationship there.”
Another critical factor that will impact Hart’s commitment is how he views the style of play at each potential school. Although he likes the style of play at each program, Hart said he thinks he’d fit best at Villanova.
“They all have a pretty up-tempo style but probably Villanova [fits the best] because of the history they have, especially with the lineup with [Utah Jazz shooting guard] Randy Foye, [German professional basketball player] Allan Ray [and Italian professional basketball player] Mike Nardi,” he said. ”If I go there, whoever I come in with and who’s already there, we can take that from them and execute that really well.”
Whichever program lands Hart — which a source indicates will likely be Villanova — will get a guy who does all of the little things well and makes winning plays. He’s versatile on the offensive end between his ability to knock down perimeter shots and skill at attacking the basket and finishing through contact. Hart is also a good rebounder and is the ideal type of player for a coach because of his outstanding motor, knack for diving for loose balls and will to do whatever it takes for his team to win.
In the meantime, Hart knows exactly how he wants the final week of his recruitment to play out.
“I’m going to talk to my parents, have my high school coach and Keith Stevens there, maybe a couple of other [Team] Takeover coaches, since that’s who I had when I cut my list,” he said. “I’m going to make a decision this weekend and notify all of the schools and then make it public during the week, hopefully at my school Wednesday.”