Mitchell Layton - Getty Images
Breakout season or more of the same?
Our award-winning player profiles series continues with a glance at junior point guard Markel Starks.
Markel was handed the reins at point guard last year taking over for three year starter Chris Wright and averaged 7.1 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.4 turnovers, and shot 36.7% from three. In a three game early season stretch (18 points vs. American, 14 points vs Memphis, and 20 points at Louisville), Starks showed flashes of brilliance and scored in double digits six other times over the course of the season.
However, Starks had two issues last year that hurt the team and led to his eventual benching in late February: consistency and lack of assists. As Georgetown's point guard, Starks had 18 games with 1 or fewer assists and was third in assists on the team behind Henry Sims and Nate Lubick. Though the Princeton offense doesn't require the point guard to put up a lot of assists, Markel needed to do a better job distributing the basketball. Starks was Mr. Inconsistent on the offensive end, with 11 games with fewer than five points a game.
Best Case Scenario:
Markel has a breakout junior season and flourishes at point guard for the Hoyas. He takes advantage of defenses collapsing on Otto Porter and consistently knocks down his open looks on the perimeter, opening up the offense for everyone else on the floor. Starks becomes the "coach on the floor" point guard Georgetown has been lacking since Jonathan Wallace graduated and dramatically improves his assist numbers and his assist to turnover ratio. He becomes the emotional leader for Georgetown both on the court and off, and emerges as one of the Big East's best players at the point guard position.
Worst Case Scenario:
Markel fails to progress and his inconsistency at the point results in Georgetown's offense sputtering throughout the season. His assists stay low and his scoring stays inconsistent, and Starks is once again benched in favor of D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera or Jabril Trawick. With no proven backup behind him, the Hoyas stumble to an NIT appearance and Hoya fans are left wondering what happened to the guard that was the equal or Eric Atkins, Tyler Thornton, and Kendall Marshall when they were all playing in the WCAC while Starks once again turns to GUSA for salvation.
While Porter will be the public face of the team and the focus of most scouting reports, Markel will be the engine that makes this team go. I expect him to mature as a junior and have the breakout season Georgetown needs from him, not only being more consistent with his scoring, but involving his teammates as well. Markel will assume a position of leadership and help lead this team to the NCAAs and beyond.