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OPINION: Maybe It’s Not Too Late for Qudus Wahab to Come Back to Georgetown?

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If the reason for transfer is miscommunication between staff and Wahab’s camp, can it be fixed?

Creighton v Georgetown - Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images

For roughly the past week, fans of the Georgetown Hoyas have been scratching their heads and worrying about why sophomore center Qudus Wahab—or those close to him—decided to enter the transfer portal and leave Georgetown and Patrick Ewing.

The rumors are running rampant, but the generally accepted speculation is that Wahab really is exactly the quiet, diligent, focused, team-oriented young man that he appears to be. The transfer decision appears to be motivated by a nebulous measure of development that Qudus Wahab has not reached as determined by his guardian and/or family. No one can pinpoint how much of this decision comes from Wahab himself, but maybe things aren’t fractured beyond repair.

If this is the case, and Qudus still has a desire to play with his teammates and learn from Patrick Ewing, perhaps it needs to be said that the Georgetown fan base would gladly welcome him back. If there’s any room for relationship repair with Ewing and Wahab moving forward, please make it happen.

Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

For all the reasons that we stated Wahab’s transfer request didn’t make sense, I believe that Patrick Ewing and Georgetown is still the best-suited program in America for the young center’s development.

Wahab’s development has been terrific under Ewing. Looking specifically at post-pause and BIG EAST Tournament action, Wahab has been consistent and aggressive. His defense and rebounding is a focused improvement. He was receiving the ball well down low and looking smooth in the pick-and-roll. His post moves developed nicely and he has shown he can score on any defender he meets. He was able to draw fouls consistently and nail his free-throws. There was identifiable room to improve in his passing, his mid range game, and (of course) defense and fouling. His progress was on track.

Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament - Georgetown v Creighton Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Should he stay at Georgetown, Qudus Wahab is likely a pre-season All-BIG EAST honoree next year. Wahab very well could be considered a draft pick at the end of his junior season at GU. If the suggestion is that Wahab should have been NBA-ready at this point in his college career, but for Ewing’s alleged failures in developing, that doesn’t seem reasonable from what we’ve seen.

If his camp believes that Wahab can gain more attention at another school, we’re back to the argument that very few programs focus on their offense around a traditional big man. Can a couple dunk highlights on ESPN from a second-tier Big Ten school improve his scouting reports much? Maybe. Can many teams offer the style, pace, and focus to help a traditional-style big pad his stats with double-doubles? Doubtful.

Sports-reference

This is all to say that Georgetown has probably done everything a program could for Wahab given the new role of the modern big man and the whole global pandemic situation. By leaving, he might be losing the best ally for an aspiring professional center in Ewing.

There have been whispers that Patrick Ewing’s coaching ability was also judged by Wahab’s camp for this transfer decision on the development of fellow big men Timothy Ighoefe and Malcolm Wilson this year. That’s disappointing for several reasons. For one, that’s an unreasonable measuring stick that lacks any significant way to compare growth. Second, their playing time was limited because of Wahab’s success. Third, they missed a whole summer (and more) of development with the team due to COVID-19. Fourth, they both started as projects with potential that needs a lot of time to develop. Fifth, there’s another guy coming to battle with in practice.

Ryan Mutombo is, in fact, coming the the Hilltop in a few short months. Georgetown would have four traditional 6’11”+ centers at their daily practices to help them grow and develop. What other program can boast that? Even if Ighoefe and Wilson leave (please don’t), battling Mutombo—someone with urgent NBA aspirations, too—will surely help iron sharpen iron. Again, Georgetown is the best place for center development.

Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament - Semifinals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Perhaps most importantly, if Wahab’s camp is upset with Wahab’s development under Ewing, it’s also unfortunately an indictment of Wahab’s efforts. That just sucks for a parent or guardian to do to a kid.

It’s unfair to an athlete to compare him to a false expectation—especially during this pandemic year. Everything is delayed. For Wahab, the proof of solid development is in the pudding. He was a key piece of a great February and March run into a BIG EAST Tournament championship and earned all-tournament team nod. It was not a fluke. It was earned. For a guardian to essentially minimize that effort and success by saying “not good enough” is a travesty. If the decision was made before that run, maybe it’s time to review the game tape and reconsider.

Since the transfer portal announcement, Georgetown’s staff has been kicking the tires on several potential incoming transfers. There’s an opportunity to bring in a good-shooting forward who can also play small-ball center. To many fans, including myself, adding another traditional 7-foot center does not make sense considering the difficulty Georgetown had defending Colorado and other smaller, quicker teams. That’s not to say that discarding the progress with Wahab is smart by any stretch. But if we’re seeing some upside in shedding a traditional center, will other schools be hesitant?

Transferring, on the other hand, is not always easy on a player. There is no guarantee that things will work out at a new school, with a new coach, and new teammates. The re-recruitment process may be exciting for some players who crave that attention, but it’s not clear Wahab is that type of person. Is such a disruption really going to help his development?

Coaches recruiting him to transfer this spring will undoubtedly blow some smoke you-know-where, but Wahab and his camp needs to determine if each situation will be right for Qudus—that’s a lot of risk and a lot of blind trust in coaches. There’s nearly 1,000 kids in the transfer portal all fighting to find their perfect place to improve and get drafted. The handlers should really reconsider Georgetown if they’re hearing things that are too good to be true. Can any other program really offer Wahab the showcasing that Georgetown would offer next season? With extra pace and paint touches, GU lets centers shine.

I can’t pretend to know a Georgetown athlete better than his family or coaches do, but making conclusions during this pandemic, given the season results, just seems rushed. Wahab appears to be a quiet, smart kid and maybe disturbing him unnecessarily is not the best move. There is something to be said about consistency and normalcy this summer. Again, communication probably can be improved on the whole but words like “Wahab can be the next Mutombo, Ewing, Mourning” -type big man at Georgetown seems to be a strong starting message.

Fans don’t just want Wahab back to improve Georgetown, they want to see him grow and succeed. The Hoya-faithful were looking forward to seeing Wahab develop further and go on to an exciting professional career. There is a lot of optimism for the incoming class of freshmen and surrounding Wahab with even more talent was expected to help him unlock his game further. He’s a Hoya hero, but he could be a Georgetown legend. I was even advocating that Wahab should change his jersey number to 33 like Jahidi White did mid-college-career.

Georgetown v Seton Hall Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images

Qudus Wahab is certainly not the entire Georgetown team, and fans will eventually move on if the decision to transfer is indeed final. However, if there is a chance for cooler heads to prevail and Wahab to come back, maybe there’s an opportunity for development and success for everyone—with some improved communication. Honestly, I figured I’d give it one more shot, because Wahab’s attitude seems much better than cases with prior transfers.

Or maybe it’s too late and it’s time for Hoyas fans to move on. Fans and bloggers unfortunately don’t get a vote here.

Best of luck, Qudus.

UPDATE: Wahab issues a statement via Instagram. This process seems pretty complete and this may be the best closure fans get.

UPDATE 3/29 9PM: According to Adam Ayalew, Wahab is considering six schools: Maryland, West Virginia, Tennessee, Miami, VCU and NC State.