If there were no such thing as the NBA, upside or potential, which players would ESPN Insiders identify as the best in the country right now?
1. Josh Hart, Villanova Wildcats
Hart is not a shocking or particularly surprising choice for the No. 1 spot, so my challenge here likely isn’t to convince you. Rather it’s to put across just how amazing Hart really has been (even with his 3-of-11 shooting performance in the Wildcats’ loss at Butler included).
I suppose you can start with the fact that so far this season he has shot just as well from the field as Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield rather famously did on his way to the Wooden Award in 2015-16. It’s true Hart isn’t carrying as heavy a workload on offense as the OU star did. Still, converting better than 64 percent of your 2s and 39 percent of 3s as your No. 1-ranked team’s featured scorer is remarkable.
Plus, at a listed height of 6-5, Hart is perhaps the Wildcats’ best defensive rebounder. (That might be a non sequitur worthy of Jay Wright’s concern, but it’s also statistically plausible.) He has been the best player in the nation so far in 2016-17: