Athlete of the Month: Matt Hart

 Matt Hart ’16 began his basketball career at age six when he became involved with the Hightstown East Windsor Youth Basketball League. Currently, he is a third-year starting shooting guard on the varsity team and stands above most of his players at six feet three inches.

Hart’s interest for the sport grew each year because he was naturally talented. He noticed that he shined on the court as opposed to when he played other sports.

“I like [basketball] because I get to see all of my hard work pay off in the games. In other sports it wasn’t as evident,” Hart said.

IMG_8331Currently, Hart does not play for a club team outside of his high school team. Over the spring and summer he played for various clubs, but has had to switch teams recently because of his age. While Hart was playing for an age group above his own, now that he is a senior, his ex-teammates have graduated.

“Currently I’m not playing on an AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] team. However in the spring and summer I played for the Raritan Roundballers and New Jersey Cyclones,” Hart said.

What keeps Hart in the game and continues to fuels his sense of competition in games is, most simply put, his desire to win.

“My competitive edge began when I first started playing basketball and I would hate the feeling of losing,” Hart said. “I have done whatever our team needs to win, because who doesn’t like winning?”

Another factor that goes into Hart’s success in his basketball career is his growing passion for the sport. Hart noted that during high school many players tend to drop the sport due to academic reasons. Contrary to other players, Hart’s passion for the sport grew exponentially, according to him . Hart attributes his increasing passion to his ability to hold on to the excitement he had when he first started playing and is very glad he still has the desire he had 12 years ago.

“When I was a young boy, basketball meant a lot to me [and] to have even more eagerness now than back then makes it that much more fun to play now,” Hart said. “It is the little boy inside me, he gives me the desire to play and work hard in practice.”

While Head Coach Mark Shelley had many compliments to give his starting shooting guard, he was keen to stress Hart;s diversity as a player.

Matt is a very good player. His skill set is diverse, and [he] is very coachable and reliable. He is someone who has consistently got in the lineup for these reasons,” Shelley said.

Shelley also pointed out Hart’s importance in tight games and the manner of how he manages to step up for his team. “Last year I saw in a number of close games he wanted the ball in his hands in the fourth quarter and he really leads by example. He hit a game winner at [West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North] last season in overtime,” Shelley said.

Hart definitely wants to pursue a basketball career at the next level.  He now has a variety of DI and DIII schools interested in him and has yet to make a decision on a specific school.  

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