How to Rebuild Your Former National Powerhouse in Three Not-So Easy Steps
Let’s face it Hoya fans, it has been a rough few months for us. From the Great Exodus that saw four talented players leave the team on less than amicable terms, to losing to St. John’s in the first round of the Big East tournament after a 21-0 run by the Red Storm, to Mac McClung’s transfer, to program-savior Tyler Beard’s decision to reclassify, to losing out on countless transfers and recruits we spent considerable time and effort scouting, to…. I’ll just stop there. It hasn’t been a pretty year for the Hoya faithful, and losing out on Quincy Allen, a consensus top fifty recruit from D.C. to the University of Colorado (a school mind you that hardly ever lands recruits from the East Coast, let alone the DMV) is just one more moment in the seemingly endless line of disappointment we have had to endure. Over the last few days I have found myself feeling more pessimistic about the future of the program than I ever have before. That said, there is still time for Patrick Ewing to right the ship and return our program to dominance in the Big East. The following are the three things I believe need to be done as soon as possible if we are to ever return to being a national powerhouse.
Step #1: Find a suitable assistant coach to the recruit the DMV
Possibly the biggest travesty of Coach Ewing’s tenure is the fact that we have been unable to consistently land top rated local recruits. In his first recruiting class Coach Ewing was able to land D.C.-native Jamorko Pickett. Since then, however, only Qudus Wahab (Virginia) and grad-transfer Terrell Allen (Maryland) have joined Pickett as local recruits to commit to the Hoyas. Patrick Ewing was able to land the commitment of top-100 local recruit Terrance Williams last season, but was unable to keep Williams committed amidst the flurry of transfers. Maintaining our status as a top spot for local recruits is key for our return to prominence, and that starts and ends with our assistant coaches.
While I have no desire to specifically mention names of members of the staff, let’s just say it is apparent that certain members of the staff appear to be carrying their weight more than others in terms of landing commitments. Clearly change is required to repair our local recruiting, as four classes is more than enough time to show who can and cannot hold their own. Perhaps we could even hire a new assistant coach to recruit the DMV without having to remove anyone by creating a new position on the staff and shifting an existing coach to that new position.
The fact that our staff is considerably older than most college basketball teams apparently is often used against us in our recruiting efforts. Hiring someone that is young and has local connections is the easiest fix Coach Ewing could apply to gain some momentum on the recruiting trail. We might not even have to look outside the program to do so- Clinton Crouch is already on the staff, has considerable connections to top local recruits in the 2021 and 2022 classes, and based on how the players themselves describe their relationship with Coach Crouch, he is clearly able to appeal to a younger audience. Other names that have been thrown around include former Hoyas such as Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, and Kevin Braswell. Whoever they do end up hiring, the most important thing is that they are in good standing with the local AAU programs and head coaches at top high schools such as DeMatha and Gonzaga, as these are the places where top local players are coming from, and simultaneously where we appear to be struggling the most.
Step #2: Land Ryan Mutombo
The son of Hoya legend Dikembe Mutombo should be the program’s primary target for the class of 2021. His impressive pedigree extends beyond his bloodline, as Ryan is considered a top-100 recruit by most recruiting sites, and is considered one of the top players from Georgia in his class. On a strictly basketball level, Ryan is a talented shot blocker and post-scorer who isn’t afraid to step away from the rim to knock down a midrange shot. Ryan poses to be the perfect successor to Qudus Wahab whenever Qudus should choose to leave school to grace the NBA with his talents.
That said, landing Ryan is more important to Georgetown than just what he brings to us on the court. The optics behind losing out on the son of one of our most important players in school history is something I am highly skeptical even Coach Ewing could recover from. That said, no one should be under the impression that Dikembe would simply force his son to attend to Georgetown; that is not how you get kids to buy into a program, and further Ryan should be allowed to make that decision for himself. If we are to ever see Ryan in a Hoya uniform, the staff will need to convince him to come here as they would any other high major prospect.
Georgetown could hypothetically survive missing out on Ryan, but only if we were to land another top-rated power forward/center in the 2021 class. Some names we have been connected to include Chet Holmgren, Frank Kepnang, Efton Reid, Roosevelt Wheeler, David Joplin, and Legend Geeter. That said, Ryan should be our highest priority over all other players in this class, both because of his individual talent and because there is too much to lose if were we to whiff on all of them.
Step #3: Step up our social media game
It is no hidden secret that Georgetown’s brand isn’t what it used to be. While a happening social media scene can’t completely restore our image, improving it is an absolute necessity if our brand is to ever get back to where it should be. There is only so far that telling recruits and fans HEY LOOK AT ALL THESE COOL GUYS THAT USED TO PLAY HERE BEOFRE YOU WERE BORN can get you. I might actually vomit if I see the team’s twitter account post that same picture of Ewing, Mutombo and Mourning at the NBA All-Star game we seemingly share every two weeks.
Georgetown needs to embrace our past without using it as a crutch from which all of our relevancy stems from. Recruits both want to join a program with a strong tradition, but also that is exciting and relevant today. The simplest way to do this is by creating content that builds up hype around next year’s team, both for our returning players and new additions. Most other Big East programs have made posts welcoming incoming their incoming first years and transfers. For whatever reason we have failed to do so this offseason. Make a highlight reel of Chudier Bile from Northwestern State, or one of the many flashy plays by Jalen Harris during his time at Arkansas! Make a post about our senior leaders Jahvon Blair and Jamorko Pickett showing their stats and experience! Maybe post some videos of our players showing what their life has been like while under quarantine!
Much of the issue with our social media stems from a culture in the program that promotes silence and lack of transparency. For whatever reason the need to keep players silent has carried over from the Big John days, which makes no sense in today’s basketball landscape where players themselves have to worry about their own individual brands. Our players have personalities and stories the fans want to hear and engage with, and now more than ever revamping the fan interaction aspect of the program is necessary to instill some life into our weary souls.
Have faith, Hoya fans. Coach Ewing still has plenty of time to right the ship by assembling a strong 2021 class, and on some level our public pessimism about the status of the team will only make their job harder. That said, we must also be honest about the state of the program - we are not where we thought we would be when Coach Ewing took over, and something needs to be done soon to get us to where we should be by now.