By now you’ve heard that Georgetown Hoyas’ sophomore center Qudus Wahab has entered the transfer portal.
First things first: Hoyas fans should totally respect the young man’s decision. It’s OK to be disappointed in the system and process, but the transfer portal is causing pandemonium throughout the sport not just GU.
There are undoubtedly some worries as to speculated reasons for Wahab’s decision to leave, especially how it reflects on the program’s status. Many fans expected a center to transfer out of Georgetown this week, just not the lead big man. When an important piece to your tournament title run a few short days ago doesn’t want to rejoin the team, it’s fair to question absolutely everything.
For instance, after a program lost key players like Georgetown has under Ewing, it’s hard to brush this transfer off as merely a small piece of the gigantic transfer epidemic. Georgetown’s recent February and March success—and Wahab’s big jump in development this season—was supposed to be indicative that the program has turned the corner after The Great Defection of 2019.
The gumbo was supposed to be coming together. Now what can be said? Two steps forward, one back? Could Ewing’s staff and team have done anything differently?
don't know how anyone could. Catered to him on both ends, thought he could be the best big in CBB. what else can you do? https://t.co/pZmzlcX9Pj— Nolan (@NationWideNolan) March 25, 2021
Even outsiders are questioning the move by Wahab. Ewing’s offensive focus and pace of play seem perfect to spotlight a center.
georgetown: *runs its entire offense through wahab to steamroll the best conference tournament in college basketball and making it to the tournament*— binp (@the_binp) March 25, 2021
wahab: "well that's enough of that"
This is shocking. Wahab has seemed to have excellent development under NBA Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing. No doubt 1st Team Preseason All BigEast if he returns. https://t.co/ZKb5GC4nla— The Butler Way (@butlermbbb) March 25, 2021
It did not seem like a bad relationship watching Wahab and Ewing interact this season. For instance, Patrick Ewing praised Wahab after several wins, including after the first-round BIG EAST Tournament win over Marquette.
Patrick Ewing talking about Qudus Wahab just 2 weeks ago after the 1st rd win over Marquette.— Bobby Bancroft (@BobbyBancroft) March 25, 2021
Ewing said that when Wahab leaves - hopefully in 2 YEARS - he should be the best big in the country. pic.twitter.com/ErfZZmXO3j
Qudus Wahab has accepted the praise from his coach several times and acknowledged that he is learning from Ewing. In interviews, Wahab seemed humble, team-oriented, and focused on doing the little things to improve.
Qudus Wahab on what stats mean to him: "Yeah, I don't really care about stats. I'm just trying to handle business... if it's to block shots, rebounds, score in the paint- I just have to do it."— Thompson’s Towel (@ThompsonsTowel) December 14, 2020
The fact that he’s a big man triggers a double-take. It doesn’t fit the anti-Ewing/Thompson narrative.
There has been plenty of criticism leveled at Ewing for allegedly not being able to recruit and retain guards like Mac McClung and James Akinjo, however, Ewing is generally accepted as one of the best possible resources for a big man to learn from.
Pat Riley: "If I was a high school player and I was really good, I'd want to go with somebody who was not going to kiss my ass, who coached the hell out of me and made me better. I guarantee I'd want to play for Patrick Ewing."— Ian O'Connor (@Ian_OConnor) March 14, 2021
In my latest for @PostSports, Alonzo Mourning, the Brothers Van Gundy & others spoke to me about Patrick Ewing's journey toward becoming a head coach & their emotions in seeing him lead Georgetown back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 6 years https://t.co/0Tt6nY4A1N— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) March 20, 2021
Why doesn’t Georgetown get more blue chip big men recruit? The pitch is easy.— Todd Foster (@FF_banterman) March 20, 2021
“I’m Patrick Ewing. I’m a HOF center, Dream Teamer and one of the most dominant college centers ever. Would you like to learn everything I know?” pic.twitter.com/iKAqj3B1a7
Man coach Ewing was talking about trying to get Qudus Wahab to be the best big in the country by his senior year and I’m excited for that. Not a bad player to learn from and compete against in practice everyday next year @RyanMutombo— NBA Film Room (@NBAFilmRoom) March 11, 2021
On broadcasts, Patrick Ewing was consistently seen yelling at Qudus Wahab on the sideline, but the thought was that they had a connection. Ewing had a plan for Wahab and his development demonstrated that the plan was working—not to mention a good run as a team in February and March.
Qudus Wahab has owned the paint in this game. Patrick Ewing is most vocal with his sophomore center, and it pays off. There's a connection there, as you might expect. The big man has 13 points and 6 rebounds in this game.— John Fanta (@John_Fanta) March 10, 2021
Ewing on Wahab's play: "The zone hurt him. He's not one of those bigs that's going to get it in the top of the zone and be able to shoot it. The small unit was working, so I just didn't put him back."— Thompson’s Towel (@ThompsonsTowel) January 10, 2021
Ewing on Wahab: "He needs to know when they're doubling him, he had five turnovers today. [...] There were times where he needed to go up with the shot and he put it on the floor, and they took it from him."— Voice Sports (@GUVoiceSports) February 24, 2021
Duval Simmonds, often referred to as Qudus Wahab’s guardian, tweeted this statement early this morning:
Several fans upset over transfer portal & it’s understandable. Toughest & hardest decision in a long time. Thanks to the Georgetown staff for their professionalism & for simplifying this process. Academic/athletic experience on the Hill was priceless & we’ll forever be grateful.
Several fans upset over transfer portal & it’s understandable. Toughest & hardest decision in a long time. Thanks to the Georgetown staff for their professionalism & for simplifying this process. Academic/athletic experience on the Hill was priceless & we’ll forever be grateful.— DUVAL SIMMONDS (@DuvalSimmonds) March 26, 2021
We can respect Wahab’s decision and still be unhappy about it.
The hope moving forward is that other big men still see the benefits of working with a coach who was also a player of Ewing’s caliber. Centers like Jessie Govan and Omer Yurtseven, each potentially on the cusp of advancing past the G League to the NBA, have praised Patrick Ewing for his role in their own development. Each pro player, as well as other former players, has indicated that Ewing certainly is demanding. Is Pat just too harsh?
Did Qudus want more freedom to shoot jumpers like Govan and Yurtseven?
“Ewing was ahead of his time when he played, and I think his determination was... he just wanted perfection—in every aspect,” Yurtseven said. “He knew the pace that we had to play in order to beat the other teams, and he also knew the pace that it took to make me an NBA player.” https://t.co/fxZaaHeBDJ— Philadelphia Hoyas (@PhillyHoyas) September 21, 2020
Now, who knows what the future is for Ewing and the Hoyas 2021-22 roster. Wahab’s departure certainly helps the scholarship numbers situation, but it’s also too big a loss of talent to be happy about. It also disturbs year-to-year team consistency.
Patrick Ewing is not likely to be done recruiting for this upcoming season. Despite worries articulated by the fan base (and this blog contributor) that adding 6+ new players each year might actually add to turmoil triggering transfers-out, Ewing clearly can’t help himself from fishing for talent in the growing “college free agency” pond.
I don’t expect Georgetown to all-of-a-sudden discontinue their heavy low post focus on offense and I can’t imagine Ewing refraining from making more moves this off-season.
Ewing likely has something up else his sleeve, whether Georgetown’s staff pursues a player at a position of need like a sniper on the wing or a stretch power forward—or adds a big transfer center who appreciates learning from a Hall of Fame big man as coach of Big Man U.
Because even without Qudus Wahab, the Georgetown brand is as strong as it’s been in years.
Ewing on media attention: "Our brand has always been strong. Started from back when Coach Thompson came and when my class came and kicked the door in. [...] I don't think that it's a negative, I look at it as being a positive, because we want to recruit over the whole world."— Voice Sports (@GUVoiceSports) March 16, 2021