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Jason Hart Joins Mark Pope's Coaching Staff

Mark Pope has been working relentlessly behind the scenes to piece together his coaching staff for the upcoming season. Today it was announced that two have been officially hired, one being Cody Fueger from BYU, as well as, Jason Hart from the G-League’s Ignite program.


Jason Hart comes into the Kentucky program as an Assistant Coach after his time in the NBA’s development league.


“I couldn’t be more excited to join the Big Blue Nation,” Hart said. “I’ve played and coached at every level of basketball and there is not a more passionate fan base than this one. I will give every ounce of energy to our players and this program, and I can’t wait to get started. I want to thank Mitch Barnhart and Mark Pope for their confidence in me, and I want to say a special thanks to my family for their continued support.”


Jason Hart has been around basketball his entire life and from 1996-2000 he attended Syracuse University in New York. At the end of Hart's collegiate career, he was drafted in the second round of the 2000 NBA Draft with the 49th overall pick to the Milwaukee Bucks. Hart went on to spend the next 11 years in the NBA with several teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks, San Antonio Spurs, Charlotte Bobcats, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the New Orleans Hornets.


After his fifteen-year career of playing both college and professional basketball ended in 2010, Hart decided to try his shot at coaching.


“Jason Hart is everything as a coach that he was as a player,” Pope said. “He has boundless energy. He’s fearless. He is stubborn. But he has endless joy and love for this game and our players.

 

“He has all of the grit that you’d expect from a big-time Syracuse point guard, and he earned everything he got in his decade-long NBA career through pure blood, sweat and tears. Jason is going to win over Kentucky players and Kentucky fans in about 10 seconds. I’m thrilled to welcome Jason, Brandi and their family to UK.”


Jason started out in AAU in Los Angeles as he served as the head coach at Taft High School. It was in 2012 that he would get another chance to advance in his coaching career as he was hired as an assistant coach at Pepperdine University, which is located in Malibu, California.


He spent only one season at Pepperdine as he was later hired as an assistant coach under Andy Enfield at the University of Southern California (USC). This is where he has spent the majority of his coaching career, dedicating nine years of his life to USC until he was once again offered a step up in the coaching ladder.


In 2021, Hart was named the head coach of the NBA's G League Ignite team, a developmental team for players coming out of high school that can compete against other teams in the NBA G League while also being paid contractually. However, unfortunately for Jason Hart, the NBA decided back at the end of March to discontinue the G-League’s Ignite team, ending his position there. This change took place due to the Ignite team having an embarrassing season from a performance perspective, as well as, a terrible fan turnout. The players grew frustrated as they were losing night after night, facing teams with much older and stronger players. It was hard for them to truly develop, it didn’t have much fan support, so overall it was decided that the program wasn’t working and the authority called it a quits. So with the news that the Ignite team would be gone after only four seasons, Jason Hart found himself looking for another job.


The newly named Kentucky coach has paid his dues and worked his way up both in his playing career and coaching career, bringing in 29 years worth of experience to the staff. One thing is for certain, Jason Hart knows basketball inside and out. I personally believe that this is a home run hire by Mark Pope as Harts’ connections with the NBA will also play a crucial role in his recruiting approach.






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