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32 Days to Purdue Basketball: John Hart

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Like a utility infielder, you cannot have enough guys like John Hart. He's not like E'Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, or JaJuan Johnson. He is not going to be one of the stars of the team, maybe even by the time he graduates. He still serves a valuable role because he is the type of player that can be a threat in any game. Indeed, his most famous game at Purdue came after he had not played in several games. In fact, he wasn't even listed in the official scorebook for the game, thus resulting in a technical foul when he scored.

John Hart - So. (RS)

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN (Beech Grove HS)

Guard

6'2", 196 pounds

2010-11 Projection: In the rotation at guard

When Hart first came to Purdue I wasn't quite sure what to expect from him. He was a late addition to the Ryne Smith and Lewis Jackson class. He was named the Marion County Player of the Year as a senior in high school and even was a first-team All-State selection, but that was generally regarded as a bit of a down year. He redshirted his first season on campus, then played in 24 different games last year. He played extensively in the non-conference season, but found several DNP - Coaches Decision's in Big Ten play.

Then came the Illinois game. Purdue was struggling headed to Champaign, so much so that the starting lineup was shaken up to include Ryne Smith. Late in the first half we had a John Hart sighting, as he came in and gave us a basket. Unfortunately, since no one wrote him in the official book, Purdue was assessed a technical foul and Illinois was awarded two free throws.

It was worth it, as Hart scored 14 off the bench and it was a big win. Since this victory stopped a three-game slide, it could be argued that John Hart provided the spark that gave us the Big Ten title. That is what his value as a player is. He only averaged 2.4 points per game, but he had a knack for hitting a big shot at the exact moment we needed it. I know he had more than one big three spread over the season, including a triple that broke the drought at Minnesota caused by the shock of Robbie going down. Considering that we came back to win that game against great odds, it was another key game toward the title that was sparked by Hart.

He is a shooter and a passer that adds depth. If you lay off of him, he can score. Ultimately, that opens up the game for everyone else on the floor. If people have to respect him, they can't double team JJ, Robbie and E'Twaun. If this year is all about pieces I am glad we have Hart as a piece.