VUSports: Thinking back to when you and Kris were Seniors in High School and both competing for DC Metro Area Player of the Year and he won it … do you maybe go for a little bit of revenge this year and go hard for BE POY to get one up on Kris?
Josh Hart: [Laughing] There is not a day that goes by where we don’t have a conversation about high school and he doesn’t bring that one up. I was happy for him and proud of him for that. We will see what happens.
VUSports: How does it feel being selected preseason, Big East POY?
Josh Hart: It is humbling - that is the biggest thing - it is humbling but I know that that is the preseason and I have got to go out there and play Villanova basketball, play for my teammates, play for my coaches and let everything else take care of itself. It is not about individual awards. Don’t get me wrong, it is an honor being named the but I know that we have got to go and and we have got to play - it is the preseason.
VUSports: What is it like starting practices now and you don’t have Ochefu there and Arcidiacono there and you are being looked at as more of the leader?
Josh Hart: It is definitely a change and definitely different but it is nice - it is good. We are having some growing pains but the biggest part of that is that we are growing. It is different with losing those two and the three great walk-ons who left a mark in their own way as well. It is tough. We are not trying to fill the void that those five left as much as we are trying to create our own way of leading this team.
VUSports: What are you doing personally to avoid complacency and get the team in that mindset of getting better every day?
Josh Hart: Just being fiery. For me the biggest thing is that I am competitive - maybe at times a little too competitive. But one great thing about this time is well all have kind of the same heartbeat. We all love basketball, we are competitive, we want to win every possession, every drill. The fire is still there so we won’t have to worry about being complacent
Q: How heavy is the ring, Josh?
Josh Hart: It is a little heavy. It gets lighter every time I wear it.
Q: Of all the things that you did during the offseason, what were some of the coolest things?
Josh Hart: Definitely going to the White House - that was dope. The ESPYs - that was just huge - just being around that whole environment with some of the best athletes, period - in any sport.
Q: What was it like being around the president?
Josh Hart: It was cool. There are not too many guys where you walk in a room and everyone is like “ooh, ooo”. So that was one of those moments.
Q: What was he like?
Josh Hart: He was down to earth. Right when he came in he cracked a joke and right when he did that everyone had a relief. Kind of [expelling a breath] … okay, he is cool. He was definitely down to earth.
Q: How many times have you watched the game?
Josh Hart: Honestly, all the way through - I haven’t. To be honest. Honestly, I have seen the shot a thousand times on social media or at a Villanova function or people just tweeting it but watching the game all the way through - no, I haven’t and I probably won’t until I am done playing - that was last year and we are focused on maybe making another run.
Q: When were you able to say “ok, that is over with”?
Josh Hart: I would say at the start of summer school, Villanova-wise. For me, it was kind of a little earlier. I was able to just celebrate that one for a couple of weeks and then went and did the process [NBA pre-draft]. But just as a team, the start of summer when we started working out - we knew that first day that everything before that was done and over with and we have got to focus on this year and this team.
Q: What is your responsibility to make sure that everyone that everybody else is on the same page looking ahead instead of still celebrating March?
Josh Hart: For us three Seniors, that responsibility is definitely new, it is different. Coach doesn’t talk about it too much but as a team, us three leaders, we remind the guys that last year was last year. But, like I said earlier, the guys that we have want to be led and that is the biggest thing. There is no egos. There are no big heads. Everyone is just all-in, competitive, fiery, and that is really helping us focus on this year.
Q: Well there is no real book though on how to come back from a championship and prepare for a next season. What goes through your head when you think “this is going to be different this year - so here is what we have to do”.
Josh Hart: It is tough. There is only one other Villanova team that had to do it - that 1986 team that came back after a National Championship run. It is not too bad - the atmosphere around us. Nobody really talks about the National Championship. The biggest part is that when we come to things like this ad people mention it. Honestly, it is not too bad. Just the fact that we are in our rooms, then at the Davis Center for practice, then we grab something to eat, then it is back to practice or we have classes - besides things like this, we are always together and we never really talk about it.
Q: Has anyone from the 1986 team offered advice or have you asked them for it?
Josh Hart: No. If we are at “Summer Jam” or “Hoops On The Hudson” and they are there they will always talk to us and make sure we have our head on straight and they try to give us any advice they can.
Q: What do you miss from Daniel and Ryan - on the court, off the court …
Josh Hart: Daniel was very competitive, very fiery. You always knew he was on your side. Same thing with Ryan - on the court he had the grit - he was down on the floor for any loose ball, diving into the scorer’s table jumping into a bench - he would do whatever. Off the court, Ryan is a clown. I probably talk to him a couple of times every week. Face-timing him or just talking to him. People don’t know how much fun-loving guys they are.