Georgetown's star guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera submitted his name for the NBA Draft today, opting to forego his senior year in favor of pursuing a professional career. DSR has led the Hoyas in scoring each of the past two seasons, and this last year also was Georgetown's primary assist man as he transitioned to becoming the team's lead guard. His departure could dash hopes for a huge 2015-16 Georgetown season.
Unlike Hollis Thompson in 2011, DSR is hiring an agent, meaning he's gone, rather than just testing the waters. Diving head-first, he's likely to find the waters a bit chilly. Smith-Rivera is a first-class shot maker and excellent ball-handler who is adept at using his limited physical stature (specifically, his broad shoulders and strength) to his advantage. However, he is not particularly quick, long, or tall, and those physical disadvantages will be exposed at a professional level. He isn't big enough to be a shooting guard or quick enough to be a point guard, which will pose problems on offense and could be disastrous on defense. He's already 22 years old, making big leaps of improvement (or the random growth spurt) unlikely. As a result, reliable NBA draft services like DraftExpress peg DSR as a "fringe" prospect who is more likely to find professional success overseas, while ESPN talking head Chad Ford quickly responded to today's news by saying that Smith-Rivera wasn't in his top 100 prospects.
That said, Smith-Rivera may have good reason for staying in the draft. Of course, there's the chance that his marketable skills--scoring, shooting--find an NBA team in need. But even if he doesn't get drafted, Smith-Rivera can go play overseas, where he can get paid (rather than playing for free) and play basketball full-time (rather than juggling hoops and the books). After two straight years as the Hoyas' main bucket-getter and one season as a full-time point guard, DSR may think that his individual college development has reached its peak. We all like to romanticize college basketball and playing for the love of the game, but a comfortable income and further professional development are perfectly noble pursuits.
DSR leaves an impressive record on the Hilltop. After a promising freshman season spent mostly as a scoring spark-plug off the bench, Smith-Rivera made a leap as a sophomore, leading Georgetown in scoring and doing so efficiently despite increased attention from defenses. This past season, he became the first Hoya to repeat as scoring leader since Austin Freeman while also handling the transition from off-guard to primary distributor relatively smoothly. We can think more in-depth about DSR's legacy later, but suffice it to say he has made a very good mark over the past three seasons.
Without Smith-Rivera, Georgetown's prospects for the coming season are diminished, perhaps significantly. DSR's departure, combined with those of the class of 2015, leave just two returning scholarship upperclassmen (Bradley Hayes and Reggie Cameron) who combined to average barely 1 point per game last season. In particular, the absence of DSR and graduating senior Jabril Trawick leave open 60 minutes of guard play per game from this past season. This season's freshmen, particularly Tre Campbell and LJ Peak, will need to develop quickly for Georgetown to once again finish near the top of the Big East. The younger Hoyas look ready to make a leap much like DSR did in his sophomore year. But even in that scenario, it's hard to imagine Georgetown making a deep March run next season without Smith-Rivera. It's understandable, then, that Georgetown appears to be hitting the transfer market for a guard for next season.
Here's Georgetown's press release on DSR's decision:
Junior D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera to Submit for NBA Draft
WASHINGTON - Georgetown University junior men's basketball player D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Indianapolis, Ind./North Central/Oak Hill) will forgo his final year of eligibility and will submit his name for the National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft. Smith-Rivera plans to sign with an agent.
"D'Vauntes has decided to enter the NBA Draft," Head Coach John Thompson III said. "He has given a great deal to this program and we will do everything we can to help him pursue his goals."
Smith-Rivera was an All-BIG EAST First Team selection this season, in addition to being named to the United States Basketball Writers Association All-District II team and to the All-District 5 Team by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
Smith-Rivera led Georgetown, and ranked fourth in the BIG EAST with 16.3 points per game. The junior guard, who had nine games this season with at least 20 points, became the 45th player in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark for his career and finished his junior season ranked 18th all-time at Georgetown with 1,386 points.
Smith-Rivera also led Georgetown with 3.2 assists (10th in the BIG EAST), was third on the team with 4.2 rebounds per game and led the team with 1.6 steals per game (sixth in the BIG EAST). He was second in the league in free throw percentage (86.1 percent), ninth in three-point field goal percentage (38.7), fifth in 3-pointers made (2.3/game), fifth in assist-turnover ratio (1.9, 101 assists, 52 turnovers) and sixth in minutes played (34.4 mpg).