The 2016 NCAA National Championship is one of the most iconic basketball games of all-time, college or the pros. And it has one recent Portland Trail Blazers connection.
The Blazers’ trade deadline acquisition Josh Hart was a junior for the Villanova Wildcats as they competed for the school’s first national championship since 1985 against the North Carolina Tar Heels.
On this day six years ago, Hart played 38 minutes (the most of any player in the game) to help upset North Carolina and win the title in a 77-74 tight-knit affair.
If you haven’t seen Secret Base’s episode of “Rewinder” for this game, please watch. You will not be disappointed.
While the game is ultimately remembered for the buzzer beater sunk by his teammate Kris Jenkins, Hart’s contributions should not go unrecognized.
Hart averaged a team-best 15.5 points per game that season and it put him squarely on NBA scouts’ radars. Hart played his senior season before declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft and becoming a first-round pick.
Six years later, Hart finds himself in a similar position to where he was at Villanova. He has a true chance to become a major contributor for a surprise team in 2022-23 and take the next step in his basketball career.