Friday, top-100 2014 center Chinanu Onuaku is slated to announce his college decision between Louisville, Miami, and Georgetown. The pundits are nearly unanimous in thinking that Onuaku will announce for Louisville, despite the Hoyas recent push that resulted in Onuaku's official visit to the Hilltop last weekend. Quotes from his high school coach only reinforce that notion.
Of course, weird things happen in recruiting: the Hoyas recently landed LJ Peak, another 2014 top-100 player who until the moment he picked Georgetown was perceived to be a lock to go elsewhere (in Peak's case, home state South Carolina). Peak was the third recruit in Georgetown's 2014 class, joining talented classmates Isaac Copeland and Tre Campbell; since then, Paul White has become the fourth recruit to pledge to Georgetown for next year, giving the Hoyas a deep, talented class that currently is ranked in the top 5 of most recruiting rankings. Onuaku or fellow 2014 top-100 big man Elbert Robinson would complement that centerless class nicely.
Like most recruits, Onuaku will not make or break the Hoyas' roster. But he is one more recruit that could plug a looming big man gap. In 2014, Georgetown's front court will include senior Mikael Hopkins, junior Bradley Hayes, and potentially either or both of Moses Ayegba and Josh Smith, then in their fifth years. Sophomore Reggie Cameron and freshman Paul White also could play some small-ball power forward, though neither is a big man. Assuming that we see some development from Hayes and either Ayegba or Smith sticks around, that rotation is ample, if not exactly formidable.
In 2015, things may get worse. Hopkins, Ayegba, and Smith all will be gone (barring the unlikely redshirt). Hayes will be a senior, and is an extremely unknown quantity thus far (which, to be fair, is two full seasons from 2015). After that, Georgetown has no committed center, or even a power forward who can moonlight as a center.
There is plenty of time before 2015. The Hoyas are pursuing Onuaku and Robinson in this class, though neither seems like a sure bet and other options are slim to none. (Khadeem Lattin said that he'd definitely take an official visit to Georgetown, but may be winnowing his choices to Oklahoma and Texas.) In the class of 2015, Georgetown is recruiting a number of big men, including power forward Noah Dickerson (who is visiting for Midnight Madness), center Diamond Stone, and others. The transfer wire also could provide some reinforcement (see Josh Smith). Still, even if one or two 2015 big men commit to Georgetown, they may not be prepared to contribute much as freshmen.
While neither Onuaku nor Robinson is a must-get recruit, Georgetown needs to reverse its recent luck with high-profile posts. In the past two recruiting classes, the Hoyas have swung and missed on several top-100 centers and power forwards: Nerlens Noel, Daniel Ochefu, Dakari Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, Akoy Agau, Noah Vonleh, and undoubtedly others that I've forgotten. None of those misses, in isolation, was critical, and each loss was defensible, with each prospect choosing a national powerhouse or hometown team.
Also, much can be attributed to momentum, as recruiting successes beget successes. Otto Porter's rise led to commitments from wings like Isaac Copeland and Paul White, while a fallow period in the middle has made recruiting bigs a bit more difficult. That influx of talented wings in recent and upcoming classes will help mask any shortcomings in the middle. But if the Hoyas whiff on Onuaku and Robinson, they will have targeted multiple big men in three consecutive classes and emerged with only a project center. All of a sudden, Georgetown could resemble Big Man Who?
That cynical narrative easily could change with Onuaku's announcement Friday, or whenever the Robinson puts an end to his recruitment. Until then, each big man recruit who decides to go elsewhere ratchets up the pressure to land the next one.