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October 6, 2008
The Hoyas should be just fine in the backcourt despite the departure of mainstay Jonathan Wallace, who started all 136 games in his four-year career.
Jessie Sapp improved his game in nearly every area last season.
Sophomore Chris Wright will step into Wallace's shoes. Limited to 16 games by a foot injury last season, Wright showed flashes of what he can bring to the table as a scorer and distributor. He had 14 points and five assists against Jacksonville and 13 points and four assists against American, an NCAA tournament team. Speaking of the NCAA tournament, Wright shot 70 percent (7-for-10) in Georgetown's two games and averaged 8.5 points. He may not be the perimeter threat Wallace was, but he's faster and more physical. The looks Wallace got on the perimeter could turn into opportunities for Wright to put the ball on the floor and create scoring opportunities.
Jessie Sapp started all 34 games last season and improved his averages in nearly every important statistical category. He raised his shooting percentage, free-throw percentage and 3-point percentage. His outside shot really came around as he sank a career-high 62 3-pointers on a career-best 41.1 percent shooting. Sapp had never topped 30 percent from 3-point range in his Georgetown career. He also remains an excellent defender who contributes all over the floor.
Austin Freeman, a former five-star prospect, proved to be a good fit for coach John Thompson III's offensive system. He was extremely careful with his shot selection, reaching double-figures in field-goal attempts only twice all season. His sizzling 51.3-percent shooting ranked ninth in the Big East. Freeman shot 40 percent from 3-point range and 81.6 percent from the free-throw line. He's a physical shooting guard who can score behind the arc and at mid-range.
Incoming freshman Jason Clark, a four-star combo guard, will provide depth. He has a high basketball IQ and can score and pass. Word is Hoyas coaches believe he can contribute immediately.
Like the backcourt, the frontcourt also is missing a significant piece. Roy Hibbert (13.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg) made himself into an NBA first-round pick, and he was a force on both ends of the floor. But in steps heralded five-star freshman Greg Monroe, the No. 8 overall prospect nationally. Monroe is a highly skilled 6-11 post player who can run the floor and step out and shoot. He's a left-hander with great court awareness who also passes well, a prerequisite for big men in Thompson's offense. He may not make up for all of Hibbert's scoring, but he should ably compensate for the lost rebounding and blocks.
The returning starter up front is DaJuan Summers, who made some strides last season as a sophomore and will have to make more without the leadership of Hibbert and Wallace. He didn't quite have the breakthrough season some believed he would, but he was solid (11.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg). He faded down the stretch, though, scoring in double-figures just twice in the Hoyas' final seven games. Summers has to deliver night in and night out for Georgetown to be at its best.
Florida State transfer Julian Vaughn obtained a waiver from the NCAA and is eligible immediately. He played in 31 games for the Seminoles last season, including 14 starts, but he scored in double-figures only once. He's regarded as a solid perimeter shooter, and he will see some minutes off the bench.
Four-star center Henry Sims is an intriguing prospect at 6-10 and 215 pounds. He continued to improve during high school and has a huge upside. He could see 10 to 12 minutes per game and be a force defensively from the get-go. The coaches are working with him to develop his perimeter skills, because everyone in the Georgetown offense has to be comfortable away from the basket. Sims is a much better shooter from 15-18 feet than most experts realize.
Georgetown runs the Princeton offense, with its emphasis on cutting, screening and patience. The Hoyas led the Big East in field-goal percentage (49.0) last season, proof that players buy in to the offense and take good shots.
Thompson employed a 2-3 zone much of last season to spread the floor and force the opposition to start its offense further out than it would like. The Hoyas led the Big East in scoring defense, allowing only 58.1 points per game. They'll mix in some man-to-man as well.
Shoes to Fill
Wallace and Hibbert. For the first time since he has been at Georgetown, Thompson won't be able to look on the court and see the steady pair.
Must Step Up
Freeman. The coaching staff probably will be OK if his shooting percentage dips into the mid 40s as long as Freeman is looking for more shots. The Hoyas need him to average 13 to 15 points, and he's capable.
Monroe. He'll step into the starting lineup immediately, and he'll produce. Clark is the sleeper freshman who could surprise.