VUSports Season Preview: Jenkins & Hart

Over the next two weeks, VUSports will continue to prep Villanova fans for the 2016-17 season! In this piece, we take a look at how far Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart have come and what may be in store for their Senior finale ...

Kris Jenkins (Senior, 6-6, 240)

It has certainly been interesting to watch the maturation of Kris Jenkins over the years.  It seems he has always had a high-level skill package (just take a look at this highlight reel from his sophomore season in high school):

… but Villanova’s strength and conditioning program has helped Jenkins transform his body and develop into a player capable of lighting up elite competition on the NCAAs biggest stage:

As a freshman at Villanova, Jenkins had the skill level and high basketball IQ to become an immediate contributor but earned his playing primarily on the strength of his deep jump-shooting ability.  As he has redefined his body and became better at defending multiple positions, Jenkins has been able to add versatility to his offensive game and take on more of the “scoring burden” for the team.  A comparison of his Freshman year shot chart (left) and his Junior year shot chart (right) serves as dramatic proof of the degree to which Jenkins has expanded his offensive game under the tutelage of the Villanova coaching staff: 


Jenkins shot 48.5% from behind the arc in the NCAA Tournament last season (38.6% over the entire season) and 69.5% from two-point range during the NCAAs.  His pump-fake, dribble-drive game, keen understanding for when to cut to the basket and fade-away, mid-range jumper are valuable weapons in his scoring arsenal.  His O-Rating has been over 120 each of the past two seasons - even as he has increased his % Minutes over 70 and taken 24% of shots (stats per Kenpom).   Jenkins has made 82% of his FT attempts in his Wildcat career and enters the season only 87 points shy of 1,000 career points.  He is under-rated in regards to his ability to handle and pass the ball.  On the defensive end, Jenkins can guard 3s through 5s well and is a good positional rebounder.

Villanova fans should expect more great things from Kris Jenkins as he enters his Senior season.  He refuses to be defined by that one, epic, game-winning shot … he has plans for more fireworks in 2016-17.

Here is what Kris had to say to VUSports at Big East Media Day about how he is preparing for his Senior campaign:

VUSports: What part of your game have you worked on the most this summer?

Kris Jenkins: Besides my body and defense, just becoming a better leader for our team.  Trying to help our team in whatever way that I can.  

VUSports: Do you feel that you are in better shape now than you were at the end of the season?

Kris Jenkins: I feel like my shape and my conditioning is much better right now and it will get better as we get closer to the season and it will get better during the season as well.  It is something that we, as a team - the entire coaching staff and our strength coach, all have sat down and talked about and that we have put in motion since the season ended and we are going to continue to do that throughout the entire year and even when the year ends.  

Josh Hart (Senior, 6-5, 205)

With 1,248 points, 582 rebounds, and 105 steals entering his Senior season and a long list of individual accolades, Josh Hart has already cemented a spot among the all-time Villanova greats.  He has been chosen Pre-Season Big East Player of the Year and named Pre-Season AP All-American for 2016-17.  With all of the excitement surrounding Jenkins’ Championship-winning jumper, the Bang! with which Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu ended their ‘Nova careers and Phil Booth’s 20-point explosion in the Title game, one could argue that Hart’s contributions in the Final Four are perhaps a bit under-appreciated.  It was Hart who set the tone in the first half of the Semi-Final against Oklahoma - he out-played Buddy Hield and put the Sooner behind the eight ball.  In the title game, Hart drained two clutch free-throws with 13.5 second remaining to set the stage for the Marcus Paige and Kris Jenkins three-point shootout.  

Similar to what we did with Jenkins, lets take a look back to Hart at Sidwell Friends and reminisce a little (here is a video recap of the game where Hart dropped 34 on Jenkins’ Gonzaga team to grab a win - seems like just yesterday VUSports covered that game in DC):

His passionate play has always been a key element of his game but looking at Hart’s highlights from the NCAAs, you see a player with a much better shooting stroke and a more balanced offensive game:

The Villanova coaching staff and Josh’s hard work have significantly improved the consistency of his jump-shooting and mid-range game since his arrival on the Main Line (Frosh season (left) compared with Junior season (right)):


Hart saw his %Minutes number rise to 78.2% last year and his %Shots rise to 25.5.  The increased “usage” and increased attention from opposing defenses led to his ORtg dipping to 117.7 (after posting figures of 126.8 and 125.3 as a Frosh and Soph, respectively).  A key determining factor for Hart as he makes a case for getting drafted in the first round or high in the second round of the NBA draft in 2017, is how consistently he can knock down shots while being a primary scoring option for the Cats.  He already has all the intangibles and the ability to defend and rebound "above his position".  Hart was rated as the 5th best player in the country last year statistically by Kenpom.

‘Nova fans could very well be treated by Hart to one of those rare treasures - a Big East Player of the Year or All-American (or both!) performance from a Villanovan … but with or without those individual accomplishments, Josh Hart has been all about winning and he and his fellow Seniors are poised to become the winningest Villanova class of all-time, the winningest Big East class of all-time and potentially the first players to ever sweep the Big Five over a career - that would be a way to make another statement on the way out - with or without another deep run through the NCAAs.  

Here is a little of what Josh Hart had to say to VUSports back at Big East Media Day:

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 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.

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