A May 1st deadline to submit one’s name has come and gone and the transfer portal music is primed to stop at any moment. Whoever is currently left from the 1,600 portal entrants may soon be rushing to find a seat. Perhaps now is the time to let bygones be bygones and have Georgetown Hoyas and Qudus Wahab resume their successful partnership.
Of course, both parties certainly have options at this point, but a story of reuniting would be terrific for Hoyas fans. We want Qudus Wahab to fulfill his destiny here at Georgetown.
Rumors have been swirling for a few weeks that Georgetown staff and former BIG EAST All-Tournament Team awardee Wahab were in communication. With Ewing adding a handful of good players from the transfer portal this year, including Brandon Murray, Akok Akok, Primo Spears, and Jay Heath, it seems only right that he caps off a solid off-season with a solid big man. Georgetown was certainly talking to a few centers, but maybe it’s destiny that this pair is still standing.
Wahab did not have the best year at Maryland last year, and even when the Terps were playing decently, the fit never looked great. Hoyas fans may have smirked a bit too much at the situation in College Park last year, but with an 0-19 season developing, it quickly became a throwing-stones-from-a-glass-house situation. It was a missed opportunity for the 6’11” Nigerian center and Patrick Ewing.
So if last year gets erased, maybe looking forward will allow fans to cherry pick some of the best parts about Georgetown basketball in 2021—the center. Wahab had a solid sophomore season with the Hoyas and Georgetown benefitted immensely from having a high field goal percentage low-post player on the floor. Wahab averaged 12.7 points and 8.2 rebounds in 2020-21. His 27.7 minutes per game was really only limited by his fouls. Wahab made 127 of 215 field goal attempts that season (59%) and shot 58% his freshman year. Wahab was at about 56% at Maryland, and still about a 67% free throw shooter.
Getting 8 double-doubles in a 26-game season is pretty, pretty good. Wahab kept Ewing’s offense moving and importantly helped by drawing opportune fouls on opposing forwards and centers.
On offense, last year, Georgetown certainly could have used someone like Wahab to stop the bleeding on some of the worst runs. Being able to feed a center takes pressure off the guards, which can reduce turnovers and bad shots. The Hoyas were killed in transition last season and having an efficient offensive center can help change the pace when needed.
When the Pick and Roll doesn't work, Wahab often posts-up and uses his Ewing inspired post-moves to score. Wahab averages 12.4 pts and 8 rebs. pic.twitter.com/S5tBmYE2Kv— Let's Talk Big East Hoops (@Hoops2College) March 16, 2021
Moreover, Wahab was part of Ewing’s (by far) best defensive team. Not many fans have been as pointedly critical about Ewing’s defensive scheme as this humble blog contributor, but the top-50 kenpom adjusted defense ranking doesn’t lie. Georgetown’s 2020-21 conference success was built on a huge jump on defense. While Wahab may not have been the “defensive anchor” of that squad, he undoubtedly played major minutes and is likely the best center for team defense since Ewing took command.
Wahab just played a ball screen as well as anyone hoya big in god knows how long— Nolan (@NationWideNolan) February 6, 2020
Simply put, Wahab’s lineups did not hedge the screens nearly as much as other lineups were asked to—and it helped. Remember that Wahab had a 9-block night?
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
Wahab’s personality always seemed like a good fit for Georgetown. The quiet workhorse was even quoted as calling “research” a favorite hobby. For whatever reasons the relationship broke down, it can surely be repaired. Ewing is clearly demanding of his centers, but it’s obvious that he wants to help. Again, Hoyas fans would love to see it. Not only would Wahab and Georgetown likely benefit, but fans would like to see Wahab grow, develop, and help reestablish Georgetown as Big Man U.
One potentially important note is that, as a Nigerian presumably here in the U.S. on a student visa, Wahab may not be permitted to directly earn NIL pay. With the NIL inducement payments being publicized for the transfer portal free agency, it seems that at this time Wahab may be immune to those temptations. Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, may reportedly earn seven-figures next season, but the red tape for foreign-born student athletes may still be present. Perhaps Tshiebwe’s agents may shed light on a loophole or when the rules change in the near future.
Georgetown currently only has Ryan Mutombo and Malcolm Wilson as centers on the roster, due to Timothy Ighoefe’s presence in the transfer portal. Having Akok Akok as a defensive-minded power forward could certainly alleviate some help duties for a guy like Wahab. Mutombo could develop at his own pace and some pressure would be alleviated. Working out with Akok, Mutombo, and Wilson would certainly help Wahab and the bigs develop day by day, while the added experience would help these new guards and wings learn Ewing’s systems. Wahab will need to improve his kick-outs with guys like Murray, Heath, Spears, and Dante Harris ready to shoot the three, but those guards will also be grateful to pad their assist stats by feeding him in the post and off screens. Any way you cut it, Wahab is a fit.
Moreover, by all accounts, that list of bigs—Akok, Mutombo, Wilson, and Wahab—might be some of the smartest and nicest 6-10-plus human beings in the world.
After all, it’s Big Man U. Come on home, Q.