Villanova recruits on display in D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The first leg of a three-day December annual rite of passage is in the books after attending the Gonzaga D.C. Classic on Friday. Both members of Villanova’s two-man 2013 recruiting class were on display, as well as some of the top young guards and wings in the D.C. Metro area.

Hart Plays With Heart

If you subscribe to the school of thought that playing hard is a skill, then you’ll like Villanova-bound senior small forward Josh Hart (Washington, D.C./Sidwell Friends). He has been a max effort performer two consecutive years at this event.

What Hart lacks in skill and range as a shooter he make up for with toughness. Sidwell seemingly had no one to guard Germantown (Pa.) 6-foot-9 center Julian Moore, but the 6-foot-4 Hart shut him down in the first half and attacked him on offense. For the entire game Hart bodied the center up and didn’t complain about having to do it.

Hart is headed to Villanova, but the mental picture of him is that of a hard-nosed Pittsburgh-style player. He likes to post and lacks the requisite guard range, so expect the Wildcats to roll him out as a small forward.

Jenkins Finds Inside Game

Villanova signee and ESPN 100 prospect Kris Jenkins (Washington, D.C./Gonzaga) finished with 31 points. For a half, the 6-5 senior power forward flirted with the 3-point line and you just knew the halftime conversation with his coach about playing inside was going to take place.

In the second half, he came out and went to work in the lane. He has a wide body and good touch. Finding that mix of post and perimeter and getting into a grove with his conditioning will be the main ingredients for playing early under Jay Wright. He’ll most likely guard power forwards in college.

Center of Attention

The biggest guy at the event, 6-10 junior center Andre Walker (Clarksburg, Md./Bullis School) will be an interesting prospect. His size is legit, but physical development is needed and that takes time.

A good shot blocker in his zone, he needs to stand his ground better and that’ll require weight training. Ideally, he’ll find a comfort zone in the Atlantic 10, but given his size, bigger fish may bite.

Gaels Backcourt Ranks High

Pat Clatchey’s Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.) squad has ESPN 100 senior shooting guard Kameron Williams, who’s headed to Ohio State. The next man up is ESPN 60 junior combo guard Phil Booth.

Williams’ skill is scoring. A wafer-thin dynamic basket maker, Big Ten schools will try to snap him in half. Meanwhile, he’ll ring up mid-range jumpers with bodies flailing around him.

Booth, who owns a picturesque jumper, is built for shooting guard. So far, the schools all in with him include Indiana, Villanova, Georgetown and Maryland.

Cleaning Out the Notebook

• Final thought on Josh Hart. There are aspects of his game that will need to improve, namely shooting and shot creation. However, the kid has a winner’s DNA. He rebounds and frequently gets to the line, where he shot 9-for-10 on Friday.

• Penn State was wise to take Julian Moore. He’s a true center with legit size, and it looks like he’s added 20 pounds since July. Bigs are hard to come by, and investing a few years into cultivating one is the only way to go in Happy Valley.

• Sophomore point guard Bryant Crawford (Kensington, Md./Gonzaga) has big shoes to fill. He’s the guy who is replacing transfer Nate Britt, a UNC-bound ESPN 100 prospect who’s now at Oak Hill Academy (Va.). Crawford has noticed schools checking in on him, but Syracuse and Indiana would be programs to watch closely with his recruitment. Crawford has a balanced game, and the next step is taking ownership and a bigger leadership role for this team. It’ll come in time; he’s still just a sophomore.

• Here’s a name to watch for: sophomore shooting guard Traci Carter (Philadelphia/Roman Catholic). The art of the mid-range pull-up isn’t lost on him, and by the time he’s a senior he may write a chapter in that book. He’s an undersized shooting guard, but he owns as crisp a pull-up as you’ll see. Mid-level schools would be wise to take note.