Moses Ayegba has dealt with a lot of adversity since coming to Georgetown. November will mark the four-year anniversary since Ayegba left Nigeria, the only home he had ever known, for America, in hopes of building a life for himself within the sport of basketball. It took just one season of playing high school basketball in the United States for Moses to earn a 3-star ranking from ESPN, and shortly after he became a sought-after piece for Georgetown's 2010 recruiting class.
Excitement mounted on the Hilltop soon after Ayegba's commitment, with mystery surrounding his background and potential. Then John Thompson Jr. compared his shot-blocking abilities to those of Patrick Ewing, comments which added to the expectations amongst the Hoya faithful.
Unfortunately, Moses' start to college did not go as planned. He was suspended for the first 9 games of his freshman season (2010-2011) after the NCAA discovered that someone outside of his immediate family had paid for his initial travel expenses to the U.S. Though Thompson had begun recruiting Ayegba after this infraction occurred, and was not aware of the situation until it was brought to his immediate attention, the NCAA still denied his appeal for a reduced suspension, and Ayegba's freshman season never took off. He played just 26 minutes the entire season.
In August of the summer of 2011, hardship was once again cast upon Moses in the form of a devastating ACL tear in a Kenner League game that ended up sidelining him for the entire 2011-2012 season. After two full seasons with the Hoyas, Moses had appeared in only 6 games, leading many to doubt that he would ever make a meaningful contribution to the team. Entering last season, many eyes were on the Nigerian big man to see what he still had left in him.
Last year's statistics: 9.4 min. pg, 1.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.3 blk pg, 0.1 stl pg, 48.1 FG%
Moses entered last season as a relative unknown to the more casual Hoya fans, out to prove that he still deserved the spot on the team that he had earned 3 years prior. Despite a modest statline on the season, Moses established himself as a reliable bench option due to his hardnosed defense and energy around the rim.
His best performance last year came on the road against Syracuse in one of the biggest games of the season. After Jabril Trawick picked up 2 fouls in 6 minutes and Mikael Hopkins' efforts were ineffective, Thompson reluctantly gave Moses the green light. The big man responded with a masterful defensive performance and was undoubtedly the unsung hero of the game behind Otto Porter. He yanked down 5 clutch offensive rebounds (10 total) to go with a block and a steal. Almost all of his impact last season came on the defensive end, and never was it appreciated more than in this game.
His offensive game, however, was a different story. Moses displayed no post game of note and a range limited to a 3-foot radius around the hoop. To have a defensive force who acknowledges his offensive limitations is not a problem in and of itself, but in Moses' case it became a little excessive. He took a total of only 27 shots in 262 minutes last season, averaging out to right around one shot per every ten minutes of game time. Astute defenses started to key in on his offensive aversion toward the end of last season. This is likely to continue this season if Moses does not demonstrate at least a rudimentary set of post-up moves, and a willingness to utilize them in games.
Regardless, Moses used last season to solidify himself as a force on the boards and a strong, albeit foul-prone, defender. And, encouragingly, Moses showed signs of offensive improvement in the Kenner League this summer, all of which has effectively created a slight buzz surrounding the Nigerian big man heading into his senior season.
Moses has a chance to play some significant minutes in the frontcourt this season. There was speculation after last season that perhaps Ayegba would crack the starting lineup in favor of Mikael Hopkins. However, given Hopkins' strong showing in the Kenner League, as well as Josh Smith's recent clearance from the NCAA, that possibility is now very unlikely.
This is not to say, however, that Ayegba still won't have a very valuable role on the team this year. He has a chance to be one of the first two or three options off the bench. He's an instant defensive presence and rebounding force, and with a little polish to his post-game could become more of a factor on offense as well.
Even with the presence of Josh Smith from day one this season, Ayegba should reasonably expect a jump in his playing time to somewhere in the 12-15 minute range this season. Moses has the work ethic to really contribute in Thompson's system, and, indeed, at times, his contributions may end up a critical component of Georgetown's successes this season. We'll begin to get a better idea on this when Georgetown opens its season against Oregon next week.
Best Case Scenario
Moses emerges as a vintage Georgetown defensive stalwart, and averages 2.0 blocks on the season. Josh Smith's minutes are limited by his conditioning and Moses outplays Mikael Hopkins to the point that he ends up averaging the most frontcourt minutes outside of Nate Lubick. Ayegba bumps up his efficiency and productivity on the offensive end. He and Lubick form a dynamic, complementary 1-2 punch in the frontcourt, and, alongside DSR, Trawick and Starks, make up the basis for the Hoyas most effective lineup.
Worst Case Scenario
Moses struggles to find his way in a now-crowded Georgetown frontcourt and is only used in small doses when Hopkins and Smith get into foul trouble. He can't extend his range beyond a few feet from the basket, and defenses begin to sag off of him, and, thus, exploit him as a major offensive liability. He gets hurt midway through the season and, upon returning a few games later, finds that the few minutes he used to claim are now being used to develop Bradley Hayes.