Conference: Big East
2006-07: 30-7, 13-3, 1st
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
It could have been a lot worse for Georgetown. But it could have been a lot better too. Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert both could be playing in the NBA right now, but while Green opted to play at the next level, Hibbert wanted to come back to the Hoyas and refine his game. Hibbert, a 7-2 center, averaged 12.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks as a junior and will dominate the paint once again in the Big East. The favorite to win the conference Player of the Year award, Hibbert led the Big East shooting 67.1 percent from the floor. With the big man under the basket, Georgetown would be good, but returning three other starters puts Georgetown back in the mix for a Final Four.
Green, the reigning conference Player of the Year, averaged 14.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 blocks before being drafted with the fifth overall pick in the NBA Draft. He is a big loss, but the Hoyas will have a less difficult time replacing Marc Egerson, Kenny Izzo, Octavius Spann, and Sead Dizdarevic.
The Hoyas will not need much production from their freshmen, but they will get some anyway. Austin Freeman will immediately be a productive scorer off the bench. He is a superb scorer from the wing and will put up points in a hurry. He does not have the greatest outside shot, but as long as he can score in the mid-range game and around the basket, Freeman will provide a spark off the bench this year and a lot more in the near future. Chris Wright is a dynamic scorer in his own right, but the point guard will do much more than that. Wright can get to the basket and create for his teammates, but he also has nice range on his jump shot and will do plenty of scoring when Coach John Thompson III needs him to. Forward Nikita Mescheriakov and wing Omar Wattad will find it more difficult to find many minutes as freshmen.
Who to Watch:
Often overlooked during last season’s NCAA Tournament run was the Georgetown backcourt. But that is understandable when the frontcourt had Green and Hibbert. Jessie Sapp will have some competition from Wright, but he is a steady, experienced guard, averaging a team high 3.5 assists per contest. He can do some scoring too, although the outside shot could use more consistency. One thing that Sapp did very well that will be more important this year is rebounding. The 6-3 point guard averaged 4.0 boards per game, ranking only behind Green and Hibbert on the team. Jonathan Wallace is the shooter and he had a heck of a year in that category. Wallace knocked down two long balls per game and hit them at a 49 percent clip. He will be asked to do a little more scoring this season and if he can keep that percentage going, Wallace will be earning some post season accolades. Last season the depth on the perimeter was limited to Tyler Crawford and Jeremiah Rivers. Both are returning, but were very limited in their playing time last year and that forced Wallace and Sapp to be on the floor over 32 minutes per game. With the talented freshmen coming in, the starters will get more rest and the reserves will be more effective.
Of course replacing Green is the only major issue with Georgetown. At 6-8, DaJuan Summers, who started at small forward last year, could fit the bill. Summers averaged 9.2 points per game as a freshman last season and is a match-up nightmare with his size and ability to hit the three-pointer. However, due to a lack of any other experienced options on the wing and a concern with Summers’ rebounding, he will likely stay at the small forward spot this year. That leaves Patrick Ewing, Jr. and Vernon Macklin to man the four spot. Macklin did not do much during his freshman campaign, averaging 2.9 points and 1.5 rebounds in less than ten minutes per game, but his potential is through the roof. Until his potential comes to fruition, Ewing will likely get the nod. Ewing is a little bigger than Macklin, although shorter, but is a fine athlete who has plenty of experience and will do the dirty work under the basket. Between the two of them, replacing Green’s productivity should not be much of a problem and that is bad news for the rest of the Big East.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Jessie Sapp, Junior, Guard, 9.1 points per game
Jonathan Wallace, Senior, Guard, 11.4 points per game
DaJuan Summers, Sophomore, Forward, 9.2 points per game
Patrick Ewing, Senior, Forward, 4.1 points per game
Roy Hibbert, Senior, Center, 12.9 points per game