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BIG MAN U: Hoyas Fans Still Puzzled, Upset by Wahab’s Transfer

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Is this just “part of the game” now? Could Ewing have done anything differently?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 23 Georgetown at Seton Hall Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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?

Even outsiders are questioning the move by Wahab. Ewing’s offensive focus and pace of play seem perfect to spotlight a center.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.