The first time you saw Marcus Derrickson inside McDonough Arena this summer for the Kenner League, you knew things were different.
The last time anyone saw the Georgetown Hoyas' rising sophomore forward on the hardwood wood, they feared the worst.
Derrickson toned up his 250-pound frame before the annual summer tournament and showed off his enhanced ball handling, a skill the 6-foot-7 forward rarely displayed during his first season with the Hoyas. We're not talking Magic Johnson, but Derrickson worked with both hands comfortably whether on the perimeter or in traffic or beating pressure up the court. The latter is what he was doing on a Saturday afternoon in August when hearts among those watching, including coach John Thompson III, skipped a beat.
After deftly moving into the frontcourt and below the 3-point arc, a nudge from the nearest defender dislodged the ball. As Derrickson's momentum carried his large frame forward, he stepped down directly on top of the loose ball and promptly hit the deck, grabbing at his right knee.
The joyous crowd turned glum as training staff checked on the Bowie native. All the progress made, adding a floor game to a potent 3-point touch -- 37.6 percent last season -- and a rebounding knack, gone with a simple misstep. The fears grew when Derrickson could not put any weight on the injured leg. The summer of hope thanks to the backcourt additions of Rodney Pryor and Jonathan Mulmore, and the youthful roster now a year older, was suddenly turning gloomy.
Soon after, Scout.com learned things were not as bad as they appear. Derrickson suffered a hyperextension. That would keep him out of the following day's championship game, but not the real season. No offense to his teammates on The Tombs, who ended up losing in the final, but the big picture is all that matters. Georgetown has ample frontcourt depth, but Derrickson's power body and perimeter touch is a unique combination on the roster. If he can take the new parts of his game into the regular season, he could challenge for a starting spot in the frontcourt or play small-ball center or receive quality minutes regardless.
At least it appears Derrickson will have that chance, one that for a few minutes on a summer Saturday it appeared he lost.
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