The legend of Mike Hart seems to grow by the week. As the No. 1 team in the country, most folks would logically expect that the Gonzaga Bulldogs are made up of highly recruited guys. Well, that has never really been the Gonzaga way and, while recruiting has gotten significantly better over the past few years, guys like Mike Hart continue to have a huge impact on the program. Everyone that reads our site knows about the journey of Mike Hart and how improbable it is that he is actually a starter on the No. 1 team in the nation. In a recent article by SI's Seth Davis, Hart was named captain of the All-Glue Guy team and Davis does a great job outlining Hart's ascent:
Let's start with some numbers, shall we?
1. The number of Division I starters who take a lower percentage of their team's shots than Mike Hart, Gonzaga's 6-foot-6 senior guard. (His name is Jonathan Lewis of Jackson State, if you care. And a hat tip to my colleague Luke Winn for digging up that nugget.)
8. The number of turnovers Hart has committed this season. In 552 minutes. "I challenge you to go through the annals of history and see if you can find anybody with a stat like that," Gonzaga coach Mark Few says.
0. The number of college scholarship offers Hart received as a senior at Jesuit High in Portland. That includes Division II and Division III as well. An assistant coach from a local Division III school came to watch Hart play a couple of times, but he decided to pass.
18. The number of games Mike Hart has started this year for the number one-ranked team in the country.
I know what you must be thinking: This doesn't add up. Hart's contribution to Gonzaga's success this season may hard to quantify, but it's easy to see. That's saying a lot for a player whose coach never heard of him until he showed up for practice as a walk-on four years ago. "He's unbelievable, man. I've never had anybody like him in all my years of coaching," Few says. "Every team in America could use somebody like him. He has a knack for the ball that you just can't teach. He's incredible at taking charges, at helping, at fighting through screens and moving the ball. He's a crafty, timely cutter. And then he'll come to you and tell you that he doesn't want to start because someone else needs more confidence. He has work ethic, honor, values -- everything, man. He's just a big-time kid."
While many of us, myself very much included, have questioned Hart's role on the team, it goes without saying that he has been a huge reason for Gonzaga's success this year. While many will say he is a liability on offense, the fact that he does not turn the ball over means that his risk is basically nothing. In the starting lineup, Mark Few has four guys that can go off for 20+ points on any given night so, to be honest, Hart is kind of exactly what this team needs at the small forward position.
While this is just one man's opinion, it is great to see Hart get the national recognition that he deserves. We've said it before but replacing guys like Hart and Elias Harris is going to mean much more than just filling in for their contribution to the stat sheet.