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Marist hoopster Hart stars in international play

Freshman starts in U-18 FIBA tournament

By Zach Dooley
On September 5, 2012

    Despite the state of the results, Marist basketball has always been a team with a lot of heart, and this year's team should have more heart than ever.  Or perhaps Hart, that is.

     Incoming freshman Khallid Hart is one of the most highly touted newcomers to Marist and the entire MAAC this season.  He is coming off of a standout performance with the US Virgin Islands Under-18 team at the FIBA America U18 Tournament this past summer.  The Sanford School graduate led all scorers in the tournament with 23.4 points per game as he led his team to a seventh place finish.

     After beginning the tournament with 12 points against the eventual champions from the United States, Hart put up 29 points against eventual runners up Brazil, which included four three pointers.  Hart finished off group stage play by playing all but one minute of an 81-79 victory over Mexico, in which he again led his team in scoring with 30 points.        

     In the consolation round, Hart scored 26 points in a nail-biting loss to Puerto Rico, before leading his team to a victory in the seventh place game against Columbia, dropping in 20 points to lead the victory charge.  As previously mentioned, Hart led his team and the entire tournament in scoring, a part of a great experience for the young guard.

     "It was a great experience and I think it's really going to help me coming into the college year," Hart said.  "It was fun."

     Hart's competition at the tournament included players who have committed to various powerhouse schools around Division One basketball, including Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse.  Hart's performance is certainly one that will serve him well in this upcoming season, playing against the stern competition on the Red Foxes schedule. 

     Hart's performances did not go unnoticed by his current coach, Chuck Martin, who is entering his fifth season behind the bench for the Red Foxes.  With a player as talented as Khallid entering the fold, Martin knew that he was adding yet another weapon to his already loaded arsenal. 

     "I think he gives us depth in the backcourt," Martin said.  "I'm really excited about the kids coming back, returning to the program, but I think Khallid gives us some depth at the point guard spot and he clearly can score the ball so we can play him off the ball as well."

     In terms of this upcoming season, Hart joins a crowded backcourt that includes two returning starters in sophomore point guard Isaiah Morton and senior shooting guard Devin Price.  The Red Fox backcourt also includes sophomore Chavaughn Lewis, who started at small forward but did see time at the two guard slot, and sophomore TJ Curry, who excels in the defensive aspects of the game like no other Marist guard does.

     Even though the FIBA style of play and the NCAA style of play are not identical, Martin knows that Hart's skill set and mentality will be able to make the jump to college basketball.

     "I know FIBA basketball is a little bit different than college basketball, and his team with the Virgin Islands was a little bit different than our team, but we certainly welcome more scoring when it fits within what we do," Martin said.  "But I think [Khallid] is such a winner that he will figure out how to make it work within our system."

     Besides the accolades from his coach Hart has begun to garner attention around the college basketball community.  His performance on the international level caught the eye of many, including CBS College Sports Analyst Jon Rothstein, who said on his Twitter account "Marist guard Khallid Hart could be the sleeper freshman in the MAAC."  That is an extremely high honor for a Marist player, but despite all of the attention his play has received, Hart has remained quite humble.

     "I didn't really take it as anything," Hart said of his successes at the U18 FIBA Americas.  "I'm coming into a new program, a new school so I have to prove myself all over again.  Hopefully I can be a backup point guard for Isaiah.  Whenever he gets tired, I can come in, do my job and whatever the team and coach needs me to do."

     Regardless of who you're listening to, Khallid Hart is looking to be a valuable part of an up and coming Marist men's basketball program.  The team has built upon its own win total in each of the last three seasons, and this year looks to be the pinnacle of what Martin has been building.

     "We're excited and I think the community's excited about where we're at right now and where we can wind up at the end of the year," Martin said.  "We just can't wait to get on the court on October 12, the first official day of practice, and just get going.  I think it's going to be a fun year, a special year."

     As far as Hart's take on the upcoming season, he's taking a very simple approach that seems to be what most successful teams do.

     "Just take it each game," he said.  "After each game we sit down, analyze what we did good, what we did well, and what we did wrong and we go from there."

     For a freshman player becoming a part of program that is on the rise looking to turn in a winning season for the first time since 2008, that's about all you can do.  

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