Villanova's Josh Hart named Big East player of the year

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Villanova’s Josh Hart takes a shot during practice on Tuesday, March 7, 2017.

Villanova's Josh Hart continued quite an awards haul Wednesday when he was named the Big East Conference player of the year, and sounded as if he wanted to cut up the trophy into pieces to share with teammates and coaches.

"This is more of a team award," Hart said over the phone from New York before the start of opening night in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. "I would love to honor the guys on my team. It's not about scoring or any one thing. It's about just playing hard for 40 minutes, and that's the biggest thing."

Hart also credited associate head coach Baker Dunleavy, whom "I work out with on a daily basis, and has really helped my development as a player."

The 6-foot-5 senior led the Big East in scoring with an average of 18.6 points in all games, and 18.2 in conference contests. Overall, he finished fourth in the league in rebounds (6.5 per game), sixth in steals (1.5) and 10th in three-point baskets (2.1 per game) while shooting 50.7 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from three-point range.

Hart is one of only two players – Kerry Kittles is the other – in Villanova history with career totals of 1,800 points, 700 rebounds, 250 assists and 150 steals. He enters the Big East Tournament with 1,823 career points, 11th in program history.

On Sunday, Hart was named a unanimous all-Big East first-team selection, and on Monday he was one of three players recognized as the conference's defensive players of the year.

Hart thanked the Big East coaches for their votes because "whenever you're competing against these guys, for them to say you are the player of the year, that's definitely an honor. It's humbling."

The award may mean a bigger target on his back once the Big East tournament gets underway, but Hart said "it doesn't change anything at all.

"This is something that we can't let get to our heads, all the individual accomplishments that were awarded this year, or any team accomplishments," he said. "We know that this is a new part of the year and that we just have to be ready and focused and pay attention to all the little things."

Already on the list of finalists for the Naismith Award and the Wooden Award as college basketball's player of the year, Hart also earned a spot Wednesday as one of five finalists for the Julius Erving Award given by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the nation's outstanding small forward.

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