Josh Hart returning to Villanova gives Wildcats real shot to repeat

Josh Hart was a big part of Villanova’s title run.

Josh Hart was not Villanova’s captain last season. That was Ryan Arcidiacono. And Josh Hart didn’t hit the game-winner in the national title game. That was Kris Jenkins. But Josh Hart was the Wildcats’ leading scorer and second-leading rebounder. And he did score 35 points in the Final Four. He was their best player, frankly. So his Tuesday night tweet was big news for the reigning national champions.

With that, Villanova now has a real shot to repeat.

It’s true.

And if you don’t believe me, at least believe this (because it’s also true): Villanova is going to be the first national champion to return its top two scorers and at least three starters since … 2006 Florida. And do you know what 2006 Florida did? It went out and won the national championship again in 2007.

(Special shoutout to Billy Donovan.)

To be clear, I’m not predicting a Villanova repeat.

Most sensible people won’t.

Duke and Kentucky are both enrolling monster recruiting classes that will create a gap in terms of pure talent. That’s undeniable. But what’s also undeniable is that Villanova is returning more nice pieces from a championship team than any school since Taurean Green, Lee Humphrey, Corey Brewer, Al Horford and Joakim Noah combined to win the 2006 title and decided to return to Florida the following season.

We can run through the rest, if you want.

Kansas won the 2008 national championship but lost all five starters. Then North Carolina won the 2009 national championship but lost its top four scorers. Then Duke won the 2010 national championship but lost its top scorer and three starters. Then Connecticut won the 2011 national championship but lost Kemba Walker. Then Kentucky won the 2012 national championship but lost its top six scorers. Then Louisville won the 2013 national championship but lost two of its top three scorers. Then Connecticut won the 2014 national championship but lost three starters. Then Duke won the 2015 national championship but lost four starters.

That’s the history between Florida 2007 and Villanova 2016. And now Villanova is returning its top two scorers (Hart and Jenkins) and a total of three starters (Hart, Jenkins and Jalen Brunson) from the team that just won the Big East and beat Asheville, Iowa, Miami, Kansas, Oklahoma and North Caroline to win the national championship. That doesn’t guarantee anything, obviously. Not even a Big East title considering the strength of Xavier. And, again, certainly not a national title considering the influx of talent at Duke and Kentucky. But what it does do is give Villanova a real chance to repeat and cut nets again on the first Monday in April.

Josh Hart is doing “one more year.”

He announced it Tuesday night.

And now nobody should be shocked if the result is one more ring.


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