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LINKS: Final Team Previews Before Georgetown’s First Game

Writers look at these new Hoyas a bit deeper

2022 Big East Basketball Media Day Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images

Some fans are still coming to the realization that this Georgetown Hoyas team will look completely different. Recent news about Dante Harris taking time away for “personal” reasons further highlights the lack of familiar faces that may be present Tuesday evening when the Hoyas host Coppin State.

While Hoyas fans will have to wait until Tuesday, college basketball enthusiasts can get a dose of hoops on Monday. Fox Sports will televise several BIG EAST teams playing concurrently in wrap-around style starting at 6:30 PM. Here are the Monday games:

Here are the links:

Meet the new players: Men’s Basketball new recruits - The Georgetown Voice | GEORGETOWNVOICE

Brandon Murray G | Sophomore … Sophomore guard Brandon Murray comes to the Hoyas from LSU along with new associate head coach Kevin Nickelberry. Coming off of a freshman season where he averaged 10 ppg and three rpg, and improved in scoring from non-conference to conference play in a tough SEC conference, Murray is expected to make an immediate impact. He’s a great two-way player—efficient on defense and adept at scoring from all three levels (rim, midrange, and from three). He has the build to play and guard a wide range of positions and will hopefully be the star Georgetown needs. This might be Murray’s only year on the Hilltop though, as he definitely has the potential to go pro come season end.

Amir “Primo” Spears G | Sophomore … Sophomore transfer Amir “Primo” Spears made a name for himself last season at Duquesne. He led his team in starts (28), minutes per game (32.3), assists (3 apg), and scoring (12.7 ppg), including back-to-back 34-point and 30-point games to close out the season. He’ll look to make waves at Georgetown this year as the most likely candidate for the starting point guard job, especially after a since-deleted photo accidentally leaked the planned starting line-up and depth chart back in June. He averaged 18 ppg in the Kenner League (an elite summer basketball league that all Georgetown players participate in), finishing fourth in total points. If he lives up to his potential, this will be his breakout year in a major conference.

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Akok Akok is one of the most versatile players on the roster. At 6 ’10, he is a great shot blocker who can grab offensive rebounds and finish at the rim, but the most exciting aspect to his game is his ability to stretch the floor and knock down three pointers. He should be a matchup problem for most players he faces, simply because of his capability to play inside and out. The transfer from UConn didn’t get the chance to play very much the last couple years due to injuries, but if he stays healthy this year, he will be an essential piece on the team. Akok is expected to start at power forward, making Wahab and him an intimidating frontcourt for opposing defenses.

Denver Anglin, Guard … Denver Anglin is a four-star freshman out of New Jersey with a sweet stroke from beyond the arc. With the uncertainty surrounding the status of guards Dante Harris and Jay Heath, Anglin could be thrust into a much larger role than expected to start the season. In high school, Anglin scored in bunches and needed almost no space to get his shot up. He also plays with a high motor and gives plenty of effort on the defensive side of the ball. He is skilled enough to make an immediate impact on the team, so hopefully he can make a smooth transition to the Big East ranks. Anglin’s presence should help fill the void left by Don Carey in terms of shooting and his youth brings a fresh presence to the locker room.

Georgetown Men’s Basketball Preview: Hoyas look to bounce back with plenty of fresh faces - WTOP News | WTOP

While the coaching staff is technically brand new, it’s not a complete swap-out. Clinton Crouch was promoted to the staff, having been special assistant to the head coach; Louis Orr remains with the program as special assistant after having served on Ewing’s staff the last five years. Former Howard coach and LSU assistant Kevin Nickelberry and ex-Wisconsin-Milwaukee coach Pat Baldwin round out the new bench.

The roster will look quite different from last season, with two incoming freshmen plus eight transfers, although some of those transfers, such as D.C. native Jay Heath (Arizona State) and Germantown product Brendan Murray (LSU) are familiar with the area. One of the four players back from last winter — junior guard Dante Harris — is not on the team at this time, Ewing said.

Harris, who was the 2021 Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player as a freshman and averaged 12 points and four assists a game as a sophomore, will be missed if he does not return, but of the 10 newcomers Primo Spears (who led Duquesne in scoring as a freshman) might be the one to take Harris’ mantle as the playmaker for the offense.

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Ewing and Nickelberry knew the Hoyas needed to reload and did just that with transfer class that ranked No. 4 in the country per 247. With seven new transfers in the fold, Ewing and the Hoyas have bolstered their roster with talent and experience. Akok Akok, the former UConn product with impressive shot blocking and shooting abilities, joins Wahab, who is back after a stint at Maryland, in the starting front court to form arguably the top defensive unit in the conference. Primo Spears, who lead Duquesne in scoring as a true freshman last season, enters the fold and is competing with returning point guard Dante Harris for a starting spot.

Throw in Brandon Murray, a a 6-foot-5 guard from LSU who averaged double figures as a freshman and the Hoyas have a young and intriguing backcourt. Jay Heath, an Arizona State transfer who spent two years at Boston College, is pending a waiver to play this season. If he receives one, he should slot right into the starting five at the shooting guard position after averaging 10.6 points per game for the Sun Devils last year and leading the Golden Eagles in scoring two years prior with 14.5 points per game. Ryan Mutumbo, the son of Georgetown legend and Hall of Fame Dikembe, is a raw but talented 7-foot-2 big man that will at minimum provide quality defense to spell Wahab.

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In response, Patrick Ewing fired two of his assistant coaches and relegated Louis Orr to a developmental role, opening the way for three new assistants. That staff also brought in five new transfers to start the season. At a glance, Primo Spears fits in perfectly, in that he’s a high-usage, low efficiency guard whose previous team lost seventeen straight games against conference foes to end the season. Jay Heath is a more reliable shooter who spent time at Arizona State and Boston College, but like Spears has never played for a program that finished the season with a record above .500. Brandon Murray is the prized recruit, and the reason Patrick Ewing brought in Kevin Nickelberry from LSU. Murray started for the Tigers, averaging 10.0 ppg for a tourney team last year. Akok Akok is a long, athletic forward that brings a defensive edge and ability to stretch the floor.

Qudus Wahab is a boomerang transfer, having left Georgetown for Maryland a year ago only to return after Kevin Willard took over. Wahab was effective as a rim protector and rebounder for Ewing but didn’t have as big a role as he might have liked with the Terrapins. Harris is also back, though expected to come off the bench after being a disappointment last year. They also have a mix of experienced transfers in Bryson Mozone and Wayne Bristol as well as freshmen in Denver Anglin and D’Ante Bass that are expected to contribute. The hope for the Hoyas will be getting back to what Ewing wants to do. They like to run four-out around a big, with Wahab having succeeded in that role before and the other four all capable of knocking down outside shots. Last year they had Aminu Mohammed to slash to the rim, but none of their current guards are nearly as good at attacking through contact. Wahab will stay down low, expected to clean the glass.

Offensive rebounding is the one thing Ewing’s teams have consistently done well and Wahab, Akok, and reserve center Ryan Mutombo should all keep that up. On defense, it’s all funneling teams to the middle and having the shot-blocker shut down the opposing attackers. As a consequence, they don’t deny passing lanes, create turnovers, or pay much attention to the three-point arc, which has led to four of five seasons outside the top-100, punctuated by a Ewing-worst #228 last year. Generally, Ewing’s teams don’t seem to care much about defending. If they are going to turn things around, that has to change, but it’s hard to envision an entirely new starting lineup finding much cohesion, especially early on.

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Coming into Georgetown, Nickelberry assumes the role of associate head coach and lead recruiter. In his time at LSU, he held a similar position as the point man for recruiting, helping to bring in multiple five star recruits and NBA-level talents to the perennial NCAA Tournament caliber team. Now, whether you want to read into the fact that the head coach he worked under was fired for supposedly violating NCAA regulations and paying players and recruits is completely up to you. All I’m going to say is if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying. At Georgetown’s media day this past week, we also learned that Kevin Nickelberry will be in charge of running the defense, something he has been able to do effectively in the past. As a head coach, his teams were centered around aggressive defense, producing turnovers and forcing their opponent to put up bad shots. At LSU it was much of the same as the defense got better every year he was on the staff, culminating with the 6th ranked defense this past year according to KenPom.

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Two promising freshmen also join the ranks. Armed with a killer 3-point shot, Denver Anglin is a 6’2” combo guard from Montclair, NJ. 247 Sports rated him as a four-star recruit and ranked him as the #87 prospect in the country. If his jumper carries over to the college level, he will have a big role to play off the bench. He will be joined by D’Ante Bass, a 6’6” forward from Savannah, Ga. Bass averaged 13.3 ppg and 7.0 rpg in his senior year at Windsor Forest High School, earning Region 3-AAA Player of the Year in 2022. Both these players will make great additions to the new roster. It is the transfer class, though, that will be the most exciting part of this season’s team. Akok Akok from UConn and Qudus Wahab, who is returning to Georgetown after a year at Maryland, will be two key big men to watch out for. Akok was limited by injuries last season but showed impressive shot-blocking ability with the Huskies. Although underutilized by the Terrapins, Wahab averaged 12.7 ppg and 8.8 rpg for Georgetown in the 2020-21 season. These two players will fill the need for a dominant interior presence and bolster the team’s defense.

Contributor Preseason Hot Takes - Thompson’s Towel | THOMPSONSTOWEL

The time has come. Georgetown basketball is less than two days away. After what has felt like the longest offseason in recent memory, it is finally here. All the hardships over the last few seasons are in the past and we have something new to look forward to. But after an offseason of such turnover, who knows what’s actually going to happen? Actually scratch that, we do. So with that being said, your all knowing, never wrong, entirely professional team of contributors here at Thompson’s Towel has come together to give you their quick hitting thoughts, vibes and hot takes (plus anything else they’re thinking and wanted to get off their chest) for the season. Let’s see what they’ve come up with:

… Denver Anglin will play a pivotal role for the 2022 Hoyas Anglin enters the fold at a time with plenty of uncertainty surrounding the Hoyas’ guards. With Jay Heath possibly ineligible and Dante Harris out dealing with personal reasons, the door is open for the freshman sharpshooter to make waves and earn a starting role down the line. If his high school highlights are any indication, Anglin could be the piece that allows this offense to space out and go bombs away from deep due to his shiftiness and quick-draw release. It may be a lot to expect for a true freshman to take control of an offense so early into his college career, but Anglin can get buckets and I believe this Georgetown team will only go as far as he can carry them.

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Wahab’s influence should be able to manifest in ways other than his offensive and defensive production–the Hoyas will look to Wahab as a leader. Sophomore Ryan Mutumbo should especially benefit from Wahab’s veteran presence. While Mutumbo showed flashes of potential last season, he struggled to find a consistent role in the rotation. This may be attributed to the lack of sufficient and stable positional leadership, with Timothy Igohefe not exactly cutting it.

In the past we have seen the importance of having such a mentor in the center position—Wahab himself played his freshman season under Omer Yurtseven, filling a supporting role in which he thrived. If Mutumbo can take on his development in a similar way, Hoya fans should be excited about the center position for the coming seasons. The homecoming will be crucial for the Hoyas, but will also serve as a beneficial reset for Wahab. During his time at Maryland, Wahab did not play like the certified stud that he was on the Hilltop. In 32 games, he averaged 7.7 points and 5.6 rebounds, and a career low 55.9% from the field. The Terrapins season was also marked with turmoil after coach Mark Turgeon stepped down in December, leaving the job for Interim Head Coach Danny Manning. Under Manning, Maryland struggled in conference play, finishing tenth and missing the NCAA tournament. Returning to the Hoyas will afford Wahab an opportunity to return to his former self while playing under a coach with whom he has significant experience.