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Villanova Basketball 2023-24 player preview: Hakim Hart

A kid from Philly comes home to give Villanova some big time help all over the court.

Villanova Athletics

Hakim Hart’s Career Stats

2019-20 Maryland 18 0 6.2 0.4-2.0 22.2 0.2-1.5 14.8 0.4-0.7 66.7 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.5 0 0 0.6 0.2 1.6
2020-21 Maryland 31 19 25.5 2.5-5.4 45.2 0.9-2.8 33 1.2-1.6 76 0.6 2.9 3.5 1.9 0.2 0.8 1.5 0.9 7.1
2021-22 Maryland 32 31 31.1 3.4-6.5 52.7 1.0-2.9 33 2.1-2.5 85 0.8 2.7 3.6 1.9 0.4 1.5 1.7 0.9 9.9
2022-23 Maryland 35 35 32.8 4.0-8.3 47.9 1.2-3.5 33.3 2.2-2.8 80.4 0.7 3.4 4.1 2.6 0.2 1.2 1.5 1.4 11.4

Hakim Hart

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
High school: Roman Catholic
Height: 6-8
Weight: 205

Hakim Hart player preview:

In today’s basketball there is one archetype of player that is valued most by coaches, scouts, programs, etc. That is a big wing who can dribble, pass, and shoot. Villanova was Wing U or Forward U for a bit, and maybe Hart is the next in line.

It’s one way to describe Villanova Basketball over the last decade. Josh Hart, Saddiq Bey, Mikal Bridges, and Cam Whitmore are all high-level wings that have impacted this program in big ways. They’ve helped Villanova achieve their greatest level of success and as a result, the program’s profile is more notable than ever. The fact that these guys are all acquiring major NBA mileage is icing on the cake and the kind of icing that a program can really benefit from. Villanova benefited greatly by landing multiple high-level wings in the 2023 transfer portal class.

Hart is a Philadelphia kid who a lot of Villanova fans already know some about. He was the Markward Philadelphia Player of the Year his senior season at Roman Catholic High School. He was Philadelphia Inquirer First Team All-Area, Philadelphia Inquirer First Team All-City, and a top-25 finalist for Pennsylvania’s Mr. Basketball. One can only imagine Hart is excited to be home in Philadelphia and a better player than ever while also playing at the next level of ball.

Hart brings over 115 games of experience at Maryland with 85 of those being starts in his four seasons with the Terps. His jumper improved greatly from his freshman season to his senior year.

He’s also improved at the charity stripe. In his first season at Maryland, he shot under 70% from the free throw line. In 67 games during his last two seasons at Maryland, Hart shot 82% from the line. It can be interpreted as simple and obvious, but Villanova loves their free throws. It’s become a key component in seeing playing time. This kind of improvement in discipline goes a long way to staying in the rotation.

His shooting has improved in live ball action as well. Hart shot 4-of-27 from three-point land during his freshman season for a 15% average on the season. He’s shot 33% or better in his last three seasons while averaging over 100 attempts during those three seasons. 33% isn’t great or sniper level but it’s a step in getting there considering Hart’s shooting as a frosh. It also helps diversify his arsenal.

Sometimes you see a player make a positive jump statistically in shooting from one season to the next, only to regress after that jump. Hart showing this consistent improvement for three consecutive seasons tells me that Hart is gaining confidence in his shot and the next step is becoming a threat that teams worry about every possession. This promising trajectory in Hart’s shooting development shows he’s on his way to becoming that kind of threat.

After Hart’s shooting, his movement off ball will lead to his biggest impact on offense. Hart very likely had the ball in his hands too much at Maryland due to just being their best or second-best player. At Villanova, he will be able to assume a true off ball role and should thrive assuming that Mark Armstrong and Justin Moore play at the level we think they will. If his shooting holds or takes another step, then teams will have to play him close enough to bother him on a catch and shoot opportunity. This should allow Hart to use his athleticism to make cuts and get some easy shots at the rim.

Defensively, Hart fits the ideal mold of a modern-day defender. He has length, size, & speed. Not just speed but also fluidity in changing directions. These traits allow him to guard four positions. He can switch onto a lead guard or battle with a forward on the block. The defensive side of the ball is where he will have his most value on the floor for Villanova.

Hart was second in steals on Maryland last season and led them in steals in the 2021-22 season. He’s had at least 13 games with multiple steals in each of the last two seasons and consistently shows an inclination for playing passing lanes.

Obviously, team defense is more important than individual but when you have a player who can bring this kind of versatility, it helps mitigate damage on defensive possessions if multiple defenders get beat or are out of position. The ‘Cats bring back a lot of collegiate scoring so it will come down to who defends the best when determining playing time. I expect Hart to vie for the most minutes per game this season because I can see him being not just Villanova’s best defender but also their most valuable defender.

Best-case scenario: Hart’s best-case can be really, really good. His best can bring high level impact in all three phases of the game. He can follow in the footsteps of the players mentioned at the beginning of this article. He can go from solid yet more of an under the radar recruit to NBA draft pick. If he does that, then Villanova has won a lot of games while making noise in March.

Worst-case scenario: This would be Hart struggling to find playing time among other good high major wings. If that happens then it probably means his shooting has regressed substantively. If his shooting regresses, then it makes Hart very awkward on offense because he isn’t a playmaker either.


Will Hakim Hart lead Villanova in steals this season?

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