As Sidwell Friends senior Josh Hart stepped into the gym for this past weekend’s Gonzaga D.C. Classic tournament, he felt on the verge of something special. Big-time college coaches such as Indiana’s Tom Crean and Georgetown’s John Thompson III dotted the capacity crowd while prominent programs such as top-ranked Gonzaga and Mount St. Joseph made up a strong field.
“I like playing on the big stage and with everything surrounding the tournament, I couldn’t get any more motivated than I was,” Hart said.
Hart’s maxed-out passion produced unprecedented results. The Villanova recruit set a tournament record by scoring 100 points across the three-day event and earned MVP honors despite Sidwell Friends’ second-place finish.
After dropping 27 points in Friday’s opening win against Germantown Academy (Pa.), Hart scored 34 in a 71-62 upset of host Gonzaga, which had won its last six tournaments and featured fellow Villanova signee Kris Jenkins.
“I think Josh had some fun with that game and maybe played with a chip on his shoulder,” Quakers Coach Eric Singletary said. “He was going against a great player like Kris and we had a chance to make a statement against a great program like Gonzaga.”
Hart closed out the tournament with a career-high 39 points in Sunday’s 59-55 championship loss to Mount St. Joseph, pushing him past the previous mark of 93 points set by former Maryland star Juan Dixon in 1996.
“I had no idea I broke the record until somebody told me while we were sitting down for the awards ceremony,” Hart said. “It’s a nice achievement for me but I wanted our team to win so badly, so it’s bittersweet. If I had to choose one, I would rather get the W.”
Entering Tuesday’s game against Georgetown Day, Hart was averaging an area-high 27.3 points per game for the 6-1 Quakers. Just as impressive for Singletary and those in attendance for Hart’s record showing was the senior swingman’s aggressive play.
“I had Tom Crean and other coaches come up to me and say how impressed they were with how hard Josh — and our other guys — played,” Singletary said. “As a coach, that’s one of the biggest compliments you can get and the passion that Josh plays with is rubbing off on his teammates.”
Related: Hart commits to Villanova