This is typical enough, the way it often works after a coaching change. Recruits who committed before the change then de-commit, opening things up again. It’s happened twice with St. Joseph’s after Phil Martelli was let go this week.
Roman Catholic star Hakim Hart announced his decision Thursday night, saying on Twitter, “I am sad to hear that Coach Martelli has been released from his head coaching job at St. Joseph’s University, and after much thought and reflection with my family and coaches, I have decided to reopen my recruiting process. God bless Coach Martelli and his family.”
What drove Hart to commit to St. Joe’s in the first place?
“Phil Martelli because he’s been there so long," Hart said. “He’s just been there so long, he knows that he’s doing. ... I talked to him two days ago. He told me that he was sorry for what happened.”
The night before, Hawks commit Kenan Sarvan, a 6-foot-9 inside-out forward from Virginia Beach, Va., had announced the same decision.
Locally, the Hart news was no doubt heard past Hawk Hill.
“The main thing, Hakim felt strongly about playing for Phil Martelli,’’ Roman Catholic coach Matt Griffin said over the phone Friday. He noted how Hart had a remarkable senior season after he had signed with St. Joe’s, as good as any player in the city.
“He just wants to know what the alternatives are now,’’ Griffin said. “I think he’d also be willing to listen the new [St. Joe’s] coach, and be recruited by St. Joe’s again. Obviously, he liked the school.”
Griffin said he expected Hart might be recruited again by schools that were in on him before Hart committed to St. Joe’s, specifically mentioning Temple and Penn State, adding that a couple of high major schools also have begun showing interest, declining to get into specifics.
Hart said he has no preference between staying in the area or going elsewhere, but he developed a good relationship with La Salle coach Ashley Howard and Temple assistant coach Chris Clark prior to committing to St. Joe’s. He will meet with his family and coaches and to determine the next steps in his recruiting process, but doesn’t have a timeline other than hoping to commit by the end of the school year.
Hart said Howard was like "family" to him, and Temple envisioned him as a two-guard in its offense.
“We had a pretty good relationship, and I’d like what they were talking to me about too,” Hart said of Clark. “[Temple] saw me as a scoring guard, like a shooter, another two player.”