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Tracking the College Basketball Stars of the Future

ECU & C-USA Hoops Recruiting Report
Thursday, April 22, 2004

By Thad Mumau
Special Correspondent

Late-calling suitors Hart-broken


Jonathan Hart is not a household name when it comes to big-time college hoops recruiting, and his name is not found among anybodyís top 100 prospects. It isnít even found in Prepstar.comís list of the top 400 high school seniors.

But the 6-7 swingman is considered one of the 15 best players in New Jersey, which is saying something because high school basketball in that state is very good. For whatever reason, though, this high-wire artist has not been overlooked just by recruiting publications; college coaches have also paid him little attention.

East Carolina, however, went after Hart hard, and assistant Greg Herenda did what it took to make him the Piratesí first addition of the spring signing period.

"Jonathan thought he would fit in well at East Carolina," said Stan Kokie, Hartís coach at Roselle (NJ) Abraham Clark High School. "Southern Cal and Penn State were very interested, and both were waiting to see if they wanted to offer him a scholarship.

"After our spring break, Penn State and Southern Cal coaches called and tried to get a visit. But it was too late."

Hart has signed, becoming the third member of the Piratesí 2004 class. Charles Bronson, a 6-10 center from Philadelphia (PA) Lutheran Christian Academy, and 6-8 Mike Castro, a power forward from Cumberland (MD) Allegany Community College, signed with ECU in November.

Hart averaged 25.2 points, 14 rebounds, an eye-popping 6.5 assists and 3.1 blocked shots per game, while shooting over 50 percent from the floor. He hit an outstanding 45 percent of his three-point attempts and 87 percent of his free throws. He was selected first-team all-state, group II.

His best game came against North Plainfield when he threw in a season-high 39 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and handed out 11 assists. He nailed five three-pointers in that game.

Abraham Clark went 13-11 this past season after losing nine seniors from a 25-4 team that won a state championship. The 2002 team also won the state title, going 26-4. A three-year starter, Hart scored 15.4 points a contest as a junior and just over 11 his sophomore season.

"Jonathan is a great, great athlete," Kokie said, "and is one of the 15 best players in New Jersey. He is a phenomenal leaper, is extremely quick and is a very good outside shooter.

"That makes for a match-up nightmare for opponents. Big defenders canít stay with him; he goes over smaller, quicker guys. If you play off him, he buries the three. If you come up on him, he blows past you. He has a great first step.

"He penetrates and gets to the lane where heíll stop and hit soft jumpers, and he uses the glass very well. If he can go all the way to the basket, he can really finish. He has made some spectacular dunks. He dunks it with two hands, one hand ... any way you want it. His vertical is unbelievable.

"Jonathan handles the ball well and passes it very well," Kokie said. "We played him mainly at the two spot, but he played some point guard for us, too.

"We try to play kids where they will likely play in college. So he has mostly played on the perimeter for us on offense. He has been inside a lot on defense. I see him as a two guard and small forward in college."

Hart is one of only seven players in Abraham Clarkís 66-year history to score at least 1,000 career points. He ended with 1,138.

"He is a fine young man," Kokie said. "Jonathan is very coachable and is a 3.0 student. He has qualified (for freshman eligibility). He played football and ran track as a freshman.

"He likes the coaching staff at East Carolina. Coach Herenda did a great job of recruiting him. He is very personable, and he was real honest with Jonathan."

In another note, Cedric Jackson signed with St. Johnís. The high-scoring 6-2 1/2 guard from North Burlington High in New Jersey nearly signed with East Carolina in the fall.

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02/23/2007 02:41:46 PM

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