Fresno State Basketball: Bulldogs Take A Big Hit As Niven Hart Opts To Go Pro
An expected Bulldogs breakout candidate won’t return next season.
Roster turnover continues in the Central Valley as key sophomore decides to go pro.
After the success coach Hutson enjoyed in his first season in charge of the Bulldog program, last season certainly had the rebuilding year label slapped all over it. But that was okay, because there certainly seemed to be exciting players on the roster to rebuild with.
As Fresno State boasted perhaps the most underrated recruiting class in the entire conference last year, with all four freshmen playing key roles in their first year playing college basketball. This enabled the Bulldogs to mature quickly over the course of the season and steer clear of the Mountain West’s cellar at season’s end.
Securing their tie for seventh place with New Mexico and finishing ahead of Air force, San Jose State & Wyoming. With plenty of now experienced players returning the future seemed bright.
Now fast forward three months into our unorthodox offseason and many of those players that had fans hopeful for the future in Fresno aren’t on the team anymore. We now find the Bulldogs ravaged by outgoing transfers since the end of the season, losing six total players including heralded freshman Jarred Hyder (9.1 PPG & 3.1 APG) to the CAL Golden Bears of the PAC-12.
This coupled with sophomore guard Niven Hart’s recent decision to pursue professional opportunities instead of returning next season, makes year three of the Hutson era in Fresno once again heavily reliant on the college readiness of this years incoming freshmen class come opening night.
Hart like his fellow freshmen, showed great potential over the course of the 2019-2020 season, averaging 8.7 PPG 2.5 RPG & 0.3 APG in just 17.7 MPG. His departure cannot be seen as anything else but another blow to the Bulldog’s depth chart next season, as he was already primed for a larger role with the graduations of seniors Noah Blackwell, New Williams & Nate Grimes.
Next year’s backcourt will still feature some veteran players such as JUCO transfer Alec Hickman who sat-out last season along with graduate transfer Devin Gage heading to the Mountain West from the Big East (Depaul). As well as returning sophomore guards Anthony Holland & Jordan Campbell who should now receive larger roles potentially in the starting lineup.
Though Hart’s destination should be something to keep an eye on, given the current complexities of travel globally at the moment. But you got to wish this young man all the luck in the world, as he certainly has the potential to play professional basketball for years to come given the right opportunities.