Happy Halloween, Casualties! For some of you, welcome back. Before we get rolling with player profiles and Big East team previews this week, let's take a look at all the bits & pieces of news that tell the story of the Hoyas' off-season. The goal is to cover 6 months of developments in 15 minutes of reading, then leave the hellscape of last winter behind us for good.
Let's start at the very beginning. (I've heard that's a very good place to start.) The Georgetown Hoyas finished off last season with their first sub-.500 record since the Esherick era. It was scary. Fans understandably felt inclined to go stick their heads - or their toes - in the sand and enjoy a blissfully basketball-free summer vacation after an emotionally exhausting season. That, or they were distracted by the even bigger train wreck that is America in this 2016 Presidential election campaign. Perhaps a bit of both.
I get it. We all needed some space to grieve. However, the program did not grind to a halt simply because some of us stopped paying attention. Great - and necessary - things have happened since the spring and it's time to get everybody caught up, because opening tipoff is REALLY SOON.
Grab a caffeinated beverage and let’s do this.
Instead of using his speech at the annual end-of-year banquet as a farewell, Senior Center (and last year's leading rebounder) Bradley Hayes announced that the NCAA had granted him a 5th year of eligibility. This surprising turn of events creates the option of varying the look up front based on the opposing team’s composition, though it does make the always-cloudy starting lineup picture even less clear.
Hayes’ revelation highlighted that while the Hoyas have an abundance of front-court players to work with, the rotation was looking awfully thin at the guard spots. Enter the transfers.
First up, Jon Mulmore. The leading JUCO scorer in the country (26 ppg) signed his NLI and officially committed to Georgetown. A quick, level-headed player with experience running the point sounds like just what the doctor ordered for the rumored new faster-paced offense. Even people outside this blog are calling him one of the top transfers to watch this season. If you needed further convincing, endorsements do not get better than this:
But wait, there's more! Two weeks later, graduate transfer Rodney Pryor (Robert Morris University) joined the program. Per NCAA regulations, as he finished his undergraduate degree earlier this year, Pryor will be immediately eligible to play for the Hoyas. He is a versatile scorer (16.8ppg) who comes in under the radar but should flourish in a system where he is not relied upon to orchestrate the entire offense.
In a surprise development, Gheorge Muresan's son (also named George) was announced as a walk-on. He is unlikely to see a lot of minutes, but it should not be overlooked that Syracuse offered him a spot and he chose Georgetown instead. That should speak volumes about the character of this young man. Cheer accordingly.
Georgetown alumnus and former Big East 6th man of the year Patrick Ewing Jr. joined the staff last year as Director of Basketball Operations. As the Hoyas were light an assistant coach or two at various points this spring, he even traveled to attend some events where potential recruits might be present.
Another box that the program checked during the off-season was an overhaul of the coaching staff. The moves came in quick succession, as John Thompson III hired two new assistant coaches within a 10 day period. With Kevin Sutton leaving for Pitt and Tavaras Hardy taking a position at Georgia Tech, this was a chance for significant and meaningful shakeup behind the Hoyas' bench. Kevin Broadus is the lone holdover from last year’s assistant corps.
The first to come aboard was Akbar Waheed, most recently of Hofstra University (previously Niagara & Boston College). He has a strong recruiting background and graduated from Gonzaga High School, a fact that can't hurt when it comes to DMV kids.
Next up came Anthony Solomon, who leaves Notre Dame having enjoyed significant success as part of their program. According to his bio, he focused on coaching their guards and was undoubtedly instrumental in ensuring Mike Brey is perpetually at the top of the list for Big East Coach of the Year.
I kid, but the numbers are no joke:
"During his two coaching stints at Notre Dame, Irish squads have enjoyed unparalleled success. In his 10 seasons on the Irish staff, Solomon has been part of Notre Dame teams that have compiled a 231-110 (.677) record and made seven NCAA Championship appearances.
Notre Dame teams with Solomon on the bench have won 20 or more games and registered 10 or more conference (BIG EAST and ACC) regular-season victories on eight occasions."
For more on the coaching carousel and what impact the transfers could have on the rotation in the upcoming season, check out OvertheHilltop's much more comprehensive analysis of how all the pieces might fit together.
Nothing of substance really happened with the current players in June, aside from the arrival of Jagan Mosely on campus. Elsewhere in Hoya pop-culture news, NBA TV premiered "The Answer", their documentary on the life and career of Allen Iverson. The trailer is embedded here, or you can watch the full movie on YouTube.
Dikembe Mutombo also popped up out of the blue for a musical appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. I can provide no further context.
What does the first week of July bring? Independence Day, and the start of Kenner League! What do those two things have in common? A tradition of questionable hot dogs that may date back to the Revolutionary War. RunDSR and St. Patrick put together a preview on what we knew about players going in, while vv1983 was the bearer of wonderful news throughout the four weekends of play.
In-depth profiles and predictions are coming this week, but here’s a small sampling of what he had to say about the players’ summer performances:
Jagan Mosely (Freshman)
"Aggressive, but also quite under control when moving at high speed. He really shows his coordination/athleticism in these instances. most guys moving that fast don’t have as much body/ball control as Jagan...Played solid D on Mulmore - did not let him get all the way to the rim very often, usually forced him to throw passes out to the perimeter when Mulmore was able to get into the lane." (July 23, 2016)
Rodney Pryor (Transfer/Grad)
"Pryor is just a joy to watch. He plays so hard - on the floor constantly. Can absorb contact and still finish when attacking the rim. Uses both hands well to finish. Plus he is a mature adult, a level headed leader who gives off a very positive vibe. His one flaw in Kenner has been that he does like to shoot. But it is hard to be critical of the couple of forced shots he takes each game - especially because he makes quite a few of them." (July 16, 2016)
“He is making highlight plays by the bunches, on both ends of the court. Dunks, spectacular finishes through contact, steals, rundown blocks from behind, lob passes from all over the court, diving all over the floor, hitting contested jumpers. There really is nothing that Pryor is not doing in every single game this summer.” (July 31, 2016)
Jon Mulmore (Transfer/Junior)
"Pushed the ball up court consistently. Moves his feet well on D. And when he does get beat, he recovers quickly. Always stays low, and is very engaged defensively...When pressed full court late in the game, he split two defenders with a really smooth behind the back move." (July 9, 2016)
Kaleb Johnson (Sophomore)
"Very aggressive attacking the rim in both half court and full court. Even finished a few with his right hand - which is nice progress, since he seemed to be pretty much all left hand last year...Was regularly taking down rebounds/grabbing loose balls and heading right up court with the ball." (July 9, 2016)
Marcus Derrickson (Sophomore)
"The Mulmore/Derrickson or Mosely/Derrickson PnR was a thing of beauty today. They ran them over and over and over, with a little bit of everything - drives from the guards, open 3s when defenders went under pick, Derrickson rolling through the lane and finishing, Derrickson popping for open looks from 3, Derrickson making passing plays after receiving pass on the roll. They whole menu of PnR offense was in play." (July 2, 2016)
“Hit a 3 off the dribble in which he made a jab step forward, then bounced back behind the 3 point line. The kind of move guards usually make, very nimble maneuver for a guy Marcus’ size. Fouled a lot playing post defense, would probably be a problem if he played the 5 for long stretches against decent post up offensive 5’s.” (July 31, 2016)
Jessie Govan (Sophomore)
"Ran the court and had a nice finish - catching pass while running down the lane at full speed. Got stripped in the post by a help defender. Did not see/feel the help defender at all. This still happens once or twice a game...When a smaller man switched onto him on a "pick and pop": Jesse immediately and aggressively backed his man down from about 17 feet out, moving smoothly into a 6 foot right hand hook in the lane. Very powerful, athletic move." (July 31, 2016)
L.J. Peak (Junior)
"Posted his man up successfully a number of times when matched with a smaller defender...LJ is very good attacking off the dribble, and he has developed a nice eurostep as his main change of direction move. But Pryor is so quick and has so much bounce, plus he has a tighter handle than LJ...Played a bit more of a facilitator role in this game - passing from the post, drive/kick to open 3 point shooters off the dribble." (July 23, 2016)
Tre Campbell (Junior)
"He seems to be a momentum player - when he hits a few, he gains confidence and starts playing much better offensively. Takes him quite a few shots to get these points - plenty of misses and turnovers mixed in...Had another good defensive rebounding game. He is consistently digging down for these boards, often going out of his area to grab them." (July 16, 2016)
Trey Mourning (Junior)
"Made a couple of nice drives from the left baseline into the lane for strong right hand finishes. Not that quick, but has a really long first step that helps him gain a little separation and leverage...His turnaround jump shot out to about 18 feet is very solid...Does not have the size or explosiveness to be more than an average rebounder. But generally he positions himself well defending the PnR, and he has good awareness of what is going on around him." (July 3, 2016)
Isaac Copeland (Junior)
"Took a D board the length of the court for pull-up 3. All our forwards have been grabbing D boards and heading right up court with the ball frequently this weekend, usually pretty effectively. wonder if this is something Thompson is emphasizing?" (July 3, 2016)
Akoy Agau (Junior/RS)
"No real bounce or explosion, running is still labored. That being said: he knows were to be on the court at both ends. This allows him to get some baskets down low off good passes, or play decent D. But you can see that if he had his pre-knee injury athleticism, he would be impacting the game very positively on both offense and defense." (July 30, 2016)
Reggie Cameron (Senior)
"Made a couple of threes early on and seemed to find a groove when it came to shooting from outside, also making a long 2. He also seemed to be grabbing a fair number of rebounds, not bad considering that Jessie Govan was on the other team. He will need those threes to continue to fall to...see extended runs on the court this season." (July 24, 2016)
Bradley Hayes (Senior/Grad)
"Two nice reverse pivot spin moves to his left, leading to layups. His feet actually looked pretty quick on these moves...Was stripped in the post his first few possessions. But then began to keep the ball up more consistently, allowing him to get to his right hand for the hook shot." (July 10, 2016)
Once Pryor and Mulmore committed, there was speculation regarding how Georgetown would handle their scholarship situation. The two additions had put the program one over the limit for 2016-17. That issue was resolved when the Hoyas saw their first transfer departure in two years, as rising-Junior Paul White decided to continue his college career at Oregon. After sitting out nearly all of last season due to injury and then recovery, it was unclear what role White would have played in the crowded frontcourt rotation.
We'll miss The Natural and his three-point shot that seemed to arc slowly and impossibly high, but he's a good kid and we wish him well with the Ducks. (Really, we do, that's not just a line.) Alas, NCAA transfer rules do dictate that White will have to sit out a season and won't be on the bench when the Hoyas take on Oregon in the Maui Invitational next month.
More alumni are coming home! Jonathan Wallace, the level-headed point guard from the class of 2008, is back on campus as a special assistant to JTIII. If he can instill some of his commitment and dedication within the current lineup, they will all benefit from it. As well as freethrow discipline. SO much freethrow discipline. Please.
The end of August also brought a battle of the wills to Georgetown, as Chris Grosse tackled a question this blog has been wrestling with for years: "Is the hot dog a sandwich?" (NB: The correct answer to this question is "no" and I will fight you.)
Both the non-conference and Big East schedules were released early in the month. Happily, only a few contests appear to have been assigned to that mythical network known as FS2. The dates & times of the major preseason tournaments (Maui, baby!) and non-con matchups had been known for awhile, but we did learn that the annual NYE tipoff marathon would be moved to Martin Luther King Day. Which is kind of weird. However...a prime-time slot, on a holiday, against Providence, is nothing to sneeze at. It is unfortunate that the home game against Xavier is over students’ winter vacation and Nova is on the first day of spring break, but we still get solid Saturday matchups with Marquette, Creighton and UCONN (not the likes of Rutgers, USF or DePaul).
In other scheduling news, we learned more details about the pre-season Nike tournament that the Hoyas will be playing in next autumn. Though the event was first announced 4 years ago (which Casual remembered, and I had completely forgotten), the official lineup and logo are only now seeing the light of day. The PK80, or Phil Knight Invitational, will be played over Thanksgiving weekend of 2017. It's one hell of a 16-team field and will continue the fine tradition of challenging out-of-conference matchups.
That brings us to this month, with the opening of the Thompson Athletic Center, Hoya Madness, Tremont Waters & Antwan Walker, all of which combine for more concentrated good news than Georgetown basketball fans are equipped to handle.
So, who's ready for the season?
Alumni News & Notes
- Jabril Trawick and Greg Whittington are both on the roster for the Miami Heat D-League affiliate. The Sioux Falls SkyForce not only won the NBDL Championship, they set a league record for most wins in a season.
- Roy Hibbert took a selfie during Kobe Bryant's "Mamba Out!" farewell speech.
- Henry Sims got signed for a stint with the Nets.
- D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera was signed (then waived) by the Chicago Bulls, and is expected to join their D-League affiliate.
- Jessie Sapp reappeared in an LG commercial about the hard work athletes put into the things they love.
- After suffering a season-ending achilles injury while with the Knicks last year, DaJuan Summers recovered and has been playing in Turkey.
- Chris Wright and Mike Sweetney, members of Team City of Gods, got to the Final Four of The Basketball Tournament. Unfortunately, they were eliminated by Overseas Elite for the second consecutive year.
- The Washington DC Sports Hall of Fame inducted its latest class in July, and Patrick Ewing was among the honorees.
- Allen Iverson became the 6th Hoya to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He thanked Coach John Thompson Jr. for "saving [his] life", among other great revelations and expressions of gratitude, and if you haven't watched the speech (which The Undefeated rightly predicted would be one to remember) you should absolutely set aside 30 minutes to do so before this next season begins.