Amidst all the turmoil surrounding Georgetown's men's basketball program, its coach, and its future, it is easy to forget that there is still a season going on. The Hoyas will host the Villanova Wildcats for their final home game of the season, and as per college basketball tradition, the team will be honoring its seniors prior to the game. This year, that includes two graduate students, center Bradley Hayes and guard Rodney Pryor, as well as senior forward Reggie Cameron.
Each of these three players has contributed a great deal to the program over the course of their careers. Cameron and Hayes have been on the team for four and five years, respectively, and although they received varying degrees of playing time over those years, both have been great team players and leaders for the program. Pryor, a newer addition, has been a key piece for this year's team, scorching the nets from three-point range and becoming his team's leading scorer.
Even though these past two seasons have not gone the way that Georgetown wanted, these three players deserve recognition for the many sacrifices they have made for this team and this school. No matter what your feelings are about John Thompson III and this program's future direction, Georgetown fans should come out to this game, a few minutes early, to show their appreciation for three young men who have given it their all for Georgetown.
Bradley Hayes arrived on the Hilltop as an unheralded recruit, a late signing in the spring recruiting period of 2012. The seven-foot center barely played for his first three seasons, until one day in March of 2015.
Georgetown was facing off against No. 13 seed Eastern Washington in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Hoyas' top two big men, Joshua Smith and Mikael Hopkins, were in foul trouble, and the team was struggling to find its footing. Georgetown fans everywhere were having terrible flashbacks to Stephen Curry and Davidson, as sharpshooter Tyler Harvey and Eastern Washington started the game hot, playing the game free and easy, as only an underdog can.
Then, Bradley Hayes came off the bench and put a stop to that nonsense. He dominated the offensive glass, earning several extra possessions, and capitalized on those opportunities with a soft touch near the basket. The Healey Family Student Center, where hundreds of students had gathered to watch the game, erupted into raucous chants of Hayes' name. The Hoyas went on a run, eventually taking a lead into halftime. They never looked back, and Hayes finished with eight points and six rebounds in just 10 minutes to help Georgetown earn what is still the team's only NCAA Tournament win in the past five seasons.
Although Georgetown lost to Utah in the next round, Hayes came out for the next season and showed that his performance against Eastern Washington was not a fluke. He started at center on day one, and although Georgetown suffered a horrific loss to Radford, the big man led his team with 19 points and 12 rebounds. In the coming weeks, Hayes dominated Maryland's five-star recruit Diamond Stone, posting 16 points and eight rebounds as Georgetown nearly upset a team that was considered to be a national title contender at the time. He starred again in a thrilling home win over Syracuse, recording a game-high 21 points.
Since those breakout performances, Hayes has been more up-and-down. He has limited mobility on defense, and he is not well suited to handle the ball on the perimeter, as Georgetown centers are sometimes asked to do. Still, Hayes always knew his role, and at his best he was a reliable secondary scoring option on the interior.
Hayes was also the ultimate team player over his time at Georgetown, sitting on the bench without complaint even when he had expected to be an immediate contributor. He loves the school, enough to return for a fifth year as a graduate student when the NCAA granted his request for an additional year of eligibility, and by all accounts he has represented the program with class both on and off the court. John Thompson III, who affectionately refers to his big man as "B.J.," has always expressed his respect for Hayes, and he backed that up by naming Hayes as the team's sole captain in his final season.
Even in this era of one-and-done players who are looking to jump to the NBA at the first opportunity, there is still something to be said for an old-school player who pays his dues while waiting for his opportunity. After years of languishing on the bench, Hoyas fans should all be glad that Hayes got to experience a few shining moments in the sun.
It has been a sweet sight to watch the big man unfurl his seven-foot frame and flip that sweet jump hook through the net, as opposing defenders paw at the air in vain. Thanks for everything, Bradley.
The 6’7” forward never really carved out a spot in the starting lineup, but he definitely carved out a spot in the hearts of Hoyas fans. Cameron arrived on the Hilltop in 2013 as the pride of Hackensack, New Jersey, receiving substantial playing time from the get-go, averaging 13.3 minutes per game. Since that freshman season, in which he averaged 3.8 points per game, Cameron has had an up-and-down tenure on the court, as he alternated seemingly arbitrarily between key reserve and making infrequent appearances from the end of the bench. Arguably his best statistical season came last year as a junior, when he averaged 5.6 points and two rebounds in 17.4 minutes per game.
That campaign also featured likely the most memorable performance of his career, a 14-point performance in a win at Madison Square Garden against Wisconsin, where Cameron’s four three-pointers keyed the Hoyas’ 71-61 victory vs. the Badgers. Cameron, who arrived at Georgetown touted as a three-point specialist but has shot just under 33% from behind the arc in his Hoya career, has occasionally caught fire as a shooter and kept the Hoyas in games. His performance in last season’s road loss to UConn comes to mind, as Cameron led all Hoya scorers with 13 points and also contributed three three-pointers to keep Georgetown in contention.
Cameron has been quieter this season, appearing in just 15 games and appearing in under eight minutes on average per game. In that time he has averaged 1.6 points and 0.9 rebounds per game, but has had moments in which he has played valuable minutes. Cameron had arguably his best game of the season in Tuesday’s loss to Seton Hall, as he tied his season high with eight points and secured four rebounds.
While Cameron may not have lived up to the hype attached to him as an ESPN Top 100 recruit, the same cannot be said about his effort. Cameron always demonstrated a willingness to fill in whatever role he was asked to play on this team and consistently showed determination on and off the court. Fans in the student section had a close-up view of Cameron’s enthusiasm, as he always appeared to be the first to high-five his teammates and celebrate his successes. His contributions may not have left a heavy mark on the box scores, but Cameron definitely projected leadership and seemed to play the role of a great teammate.
Hoyas fans may have only seen Rodney Pryor for one season, but man, did he make an impact. It’s been a long path to Georgetown for Pryor, as he missed his first two seasons in junior college with foot and knee injuries before transferring to Robert Morris. With the Colonials, Pryor spent two seasons as a scoring threat before graduating and choosing to join the Hoyas in his final season of eligibility.
The soaring swingman wearing #23 wowed us in the summer, becoming one of the first players since Allen Iverson to score over 40 points in a Kenner League game. Once the season rolled around, Pryor made an emphatic debut, scoring 32 points on 13-16 shooting against USC-Upstate. Throughout non-conference play, Pryor demonstrated his scoring prowess, scoring 20 points or more on five occasions, including 20 in the December 18th win at Syracuse and 26 points (along with 10 rebounds) in the November 21st win vs. Oregon in Maui.
In Big East play, Pryor’s scoring slowed but became more consistent, as he scored in double figures in every game except for the overtime home loss to Butler on January 7th. And Pryor did not just quietly contribute his points either. Pryor has connected on 78 three-pointers this season, far and away the most on the team this season. In addition, Pryor has shown a penchant for high-flying dunks that bring the crowd out of their seat. Two in particular stand out, namely Pryor’s tip-slam from his 26-point performance in the game at DePaul...
HOLY COW! Rodney Flyer! pic.twitter.com/42QmEaPAs4— Georgetown Hoyas (@GeorgetownHoyas) February 1, 2017
...and his thunderous jam from his 20-point, 10-rebound double-double at home vs. Marquette.
Another game, another appearance from Rodney FLYER. pic.twitter.com/aEGlgEQXak— Georgetown Hoyas (@GeorgetownHoyas) February 11, 2017
Pryor quickly became a fan favorite because of his high-flying dunks, shooting prowess, and occasional flashy blocks, but that may have helped us overlook Pryor’s issues on defense and his issues with foul trouble. Nevertheless, Pryor did his best to make up for it on the offensive end, regularly keeping Georgetown in contention during games in which the Hoyas’ offense would otherwise have sputtered.
At 24 years old, Pryor’s NBA Draft prospects do not look great, despite his gaudy box score stats of 18 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. That being said, Pryor has earned the love and adulation of Georgetown fans due to his consistency and his ability to put on a leadership role and carry the team when needed. He may not see the NCAA Tournament with this Hoyas team, but he has definitely become a part of the Hoyas community through his leadership and determination.
Bradley Hayes, Reggie Cameron, and Rodney Pryor deserve a lot of credit for sticking with the Hoyas through good times and bad. Each has had opportunities to complete their career at another institution, but has chosen to spend that final season with our Hoyas. Even though college basketball has become a multi-million dollar industry, there is still something to be said for the concept of the true student-athlete, and these three have fit that profile perfectly. Thank you, seniors. Hoya Saxa.