Georgetown basketball took a nosedive last season, finishing eighth in the 10-team Big East Conference and coming up far short of expectations. That outcome should result in a turnaround for the 2016-17 NCAA season, though, as the Hoyas return a good amount of talent and potential for this season.
The main departure Georgetown will have to overcome is that of D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Last year, he was the team leader in minutes, points, assists, steals, field goals, free throws, and threes. That is gone, which will be a blow to John Thompson III's group, but there are pieces around to overcome that.
The main building block remaining for Georgetown is 6'5" guard L.J. Peak. Peak saw a large jump in his production pretty much across the board from his freshman to his sophomore season. Unfortunately, fouls committed also jumped, which held back his playing time. If Peak can rein himself in and stay out of foul trouble, he is going to be the team's new leader.
In fewer than 25 minutes per game last year, Peak averaged 12.3 points per game while shooting 49.1 percent from the floor and 40.9 percent from three. His lethal distance shot is a real asset. He easily paced the team in three-point shooting percentage of anyone who took at least 15 shots. It's now about staying on the floor to up his totals even higher.
Peak will have help around him, accompanied by four other returning starters. Isaac Copeland and Bradley Hayes were big-time paint players, the latter in limited minutes. They started a combined 60 games last year. As many as four upperclassmen are expected to be in the Hoyas' starting lineup in 2016-17. The team only has five underclassmen; two of which are freshmen and two others are going to be high-impact sophomores.
Those sophomores are Marcus Derrickson and Jessie Govan. Along with Kaleb Johnson, all three players were four-star recruits in 2015. Derrickson and Govan were major contributors last year who should only see more time this year. The latter is a possible NBA Draft selection in 2017 if he develops and decides to leave school early. Johnson missed sometime after being suspended for accepting Mets tickets from a booster, but has made up for lost time with some solid performances. He is one of a number of Hoyas with good size and paint presence; five different players stand 6'9" or taller. Yet the team is also very active from distance, making the third-most threes in the Big East conference. That balance of inside and out makes this upcoming season promising.
All told, Georgetown should see a massive improvement on its 15-18 season a year ago. The team is poised to be in the discussion for a late NCAA Tournament seed or an invitation into the NIT coming out of a competitive Big East. There is no more Smith-Rivera, but the roster as a whole should be better than what he was playing with. The Hoyas' experience throughout their roster, as well as elite free-throw shooting, should help them close out games and grab victories that they were missing out on last season.