ROUNDBALL DAILY

After his career-high 37, it’s clear Josh Hart leads No. 1 Villanova’s repeat chances

Villanova's Josh Hart (3) goes up for a basket over Notre Dame's Rex Pflueger (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, in Newark, N.J. Villanova won 74-66. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Villanova’s Josh Hart (3) goes up for a basket over Notre Dame’s Rex Pflueger (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, in Newark, N.J. Villanova won 74-66. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Maybe the biggest question facing defending national champ Villanova heading into this season was whether or not senior guard Josh Hart could take over the leadership role left by four-year-starter and now program legend Ryan Arcidiacono.

Well, on Saturday, Hart provided an answer.

The 6-6 senior poured in a career-high 37 points as Villanova held off Notre Dame, 74-66, in the ‘Never Forget Tribute Classic’ at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. Hart couldn’t have been much better, as he was a perfect 14-for-14 at the free throw line, went 3-for-4 from three-point range and 10-for-14 from the floor.

‘Nova needed every bucket, as they trailed throughout the second half and only pulled away in the final minute.

Hart has been every bit as good as advertised so far this season, putting up 19.5 points and 7.1 boards and 3.8 assists per game. He’s projected as a second-round pick on NBADraft.net, but you’d have to think that with another NCAA Tournament run, Hart could vault his name into first-round conversation. We’d take him over guys like Georgetown’s LJ Peak or Maryland’s Melo Trimble, both of whom are listed ahead of Hart in that mock draft.

Kris Jenkins is a household name among college basketball fans after hitting one of the biggest shots in NCAA Tournament history last year, but he’s had a little bit of a hangover early this season. The 6-6 senior was just 2-of-9 from the field on Saturday, and 1-for-5 from three-point range. He scored just 7 points–the second time he’s been held under 10 this season.

Jenkins is right on his average from last year, 13.5 ppg, but he’s only shooting 41 percent this season, compared to 46% last year. More was expected from Jenkins after the team lost Arcidiacono and big man Daniel Ochefwu to graduation. He’s a gritty leader, and obviously has no problem taking the big shot. We think he’ll find his stroke again soon.

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