Update: Villanova won the 2016 NCAA championship.
Josh Hart is living proof that you can be a Scout and a successful athlete.
But the Villanova guard, who has his team in the Final Four the 2016 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, wasn’t always sure he’d have time for both.
As basketball began to take up more and more of his time, he contemplated giving up on a Scouting career that had started in Cub Scouting. But his dad encouraged him to stick with it.
“My dad said, ‘Let’s get in the car and go somewhere.’ He just pulled right up to the troop meeting and said, ‘you’re gonna finish what you started,'” Hart says. “I promised him I was going to finish, and kept thinking that I made a promise.”
He fulfilled that promise a week before his 18th birthday. Hart earned Scouting’s highest honor as a member of Rockville, Md.-based Troop 1083 of the National Capital Area Council.
Looking back, Hart recognizes it was Scouting that taught him the leadership skills and work ethic needed to succeed in basketball.
And succeed he has. He’s been called “the heart and soul of Villanova basketball” and scored 13 points in the team’s win over top-seeded Kansas in the Elite Eight on Saturday.
Next up for Hart and Villanova: A Final Four game against Oklahoma (6:09 p.m. Eastern Saturday, TBS).
But there’s much more to this story, and Philadelphia Scouter Ed Lynes can tell it. He interviewed Hart to learn how Scouting helped him achieve basketball greatness. Here is his report.
Out there: On the court or on the trail, leadership makes the difference
By Ed Lynes
Josh Hart’s junior year of college has gone well so far. Last season’s Big East sixth man of the year has grown into a finalist for the Wooden Award, given to college basketball’s top player. How did he evolve from a sixth player to what Fox Sports calls “the heart and soul of Villanova basketball”?
It starts with incredible work ethic, Hart says.
“There are no breaks, no shortcuts to what you do,” he says. “I have to do everything to the full extent and fullest of my ability. [Scouting] helped instill that in me. You got to work hard, got to the do the little things. Scouting translated that for me.”
Josh Hart, Villanova basketball’s heart and soul, is an Eagle Scout.
Scouting predates Hart’s days playing basketball; he started in the program as a Cub Scout. His father and older brother were involved in Scouting, and they thought it would be a good opportunity to do something together as a family. Hart would be the first to admit that balancing the dual time commitments of a promising basketball career and the trail to Eagle was a challenge.
“One Monday night after practice, I took the bus and got home around 6:45, just totally exhausted. I had stopped thinking as much about Scouting because I was so focused on basketball,” he says. “My dad said, ‘Let’s get in the car and go somewhere.’ He just pulled right up to the troop meeting and said, ‘you’re gonna finish what you started.’ I promised him I was going to finish, and kept thinking that I made a promise.”
Like many Scouts who balance commitments between school, church, sports and their troop, Hart got his Eagle done just in time.
“I finished it a week before my 18th birthday,” he says. “I really had to make those strict deadlines to keep my promise, but it’s a big part of the reason I am the man I am today. Those situations and what I learned translated into basketball.”
Experience on the trail to Eagle gave Hart the grit and focus to become the team leader he is today.
“It’s all about leading, leading and hard work. You don’t get Eagle Scout by just showing up,” he says. “You gotta put a lot of work in. Gotta sacrifice a lot of time. Put in a lot of weekends. Doing that taught me how to get serious, put my head down, and go to work.”
But how does the equation change when you add thousands of rabid fans during an away game? It’s one thing to lead your troop, but on national TV and in the middle of the tournament?
Hart says being “out there” – camping with your troop– is as challenging as the adversity of 10 to 15 thousand screaming fans.
“It’s the same atmosphere, honestly. When you’re on the road and in a tough environment, it’s you and your team,” he says. “Same thing out there. You never know what could happen on the trail: someone could break something or tear something. You need to pick up that load. You have everyone depending on each other. You’re developing that leadership role when you’re out there. Building those skills out there, every weekend, you need to be on your toes. It’s the same on the court: you need to be connected with your team out there, too. The main thing is exactly the same. Being a leader out there translated to being a leader on the court.”
High school is a tough time to stick with Scouting. Time commitments ramp up significantly, and many young people are faced with a tradeoff of Scouting or sports. Hart is proof you can do both, and his advice to all Scouts is the same.
“It’s not gonna be easy,” he says. “Both sports and Scouts are time consuming. You can’t want it to be easy, because there are times where you need to put your head down and get to work. When I was working on my Eagle, I got a late start. I had to meet deadlines, week after week. So put your head down, and know while it’s not easy, it’s gonna be worth it. Because Scouting is gonna help you in the real world.”
The 29,000 Scouts in greater Philadelphia all have their eyes on Hart. Those Scouts have their eyes on the NCAA Tournament this month, and they are cheering for the Villanova Wildcats. Hart, however, seeks to keep things in perspective.
“It’s not about who was the leading scorer last game, or any basketball accomplishment,” he says. “At the end of the day, the ball is gonna stop bouncing at some point. That’s when how you are as a person comes into play. Scouting helped me grow into the man I am today. Being an Eagle Scout speaks for itself.”