Another season, another gaudy record, another impressive NCAA Tournament seed — and another disappointing early exit in March. That has become the narrative surrounding Georgetown basketball the past few years, and the Hoyas will enter the season looking to erase that perception.
Since John Thompson III took Georgetown to the Final Four in 2007, the Hoyas have been to the NCAA Tournament on six occasions — with a four-seed or better in five of those appearances. Yet the Hoyas haven’t reached the second weekend of the tournament since that Final Four run.
Despite the departure of three starters, Thompson III still has plenty of talent with which to work — and the biggest goal will be ending the NCAA Tournament trend of the last several seasons.
All Big East predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, available online and on newsstands everywhere.
Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?
Georgetown loses both of its post starters from last season in Mikael Hopkins and Joshua Smith, but the Hoyas will be deeper, more talented and more versatile.
Freshman center Jessie Govan has everyone in the program excited. He wasn’t a five-star recruit in high school, but he could be poised to make as big an immediate impact as any freshman in the Big East. Govan was one of the best back-to-the-basket scorers in the 2015 class.
Sophomore Isaac Copeland should be on every list of national breakout players. The 6'9" forward came on strong in the second half of the season, scoring in double figures in nine of the team’s final 17 games — including 14 points in the NCAA Tournament against Utah. He’s long and athletic and can make shots from the perimeter. He has an NBA future.
Sophomore forward Paul White was essentially the opposite of Copeland; White hit double figures in seven of his first 16 games but did it just once the rest of the season. He’s another versatile forward who can score around the rim, but he is capable of stepping out and knocking down 3-pointers (37.7 percent).
Thompson III has plenty of depth to use in the frontcourt. Four-star freshman Marcus Derrickson is extremely skilled and will fit in perfectly with the Georgetown offense due to his ability to pass and knock down face-up jumpers. Louisville transfer Akoy Agau will become eligible after the first semester, and the Hoyas believe 7-foot senior Bradley Hayes will find minutes off the bench as well.
Georgetown Hoyas Facts & Figures
Last season: 22-11, 12-6 Big East
Postseason: Second round
Consecutive NCAAs: 1
Big East Projection: 4
Postseason Projection: First round
Georgetown’s prospects for the season changed dramatically in the course of a week in early April. On March 31, then-junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera announced he was leaving school and entering the NBA Draft — but one week later, he changed his mind and decided to return for his final season.
Smith-Rivera led Georgetown in scoring (16.3 ppg) and assists (3.2 apg), while shooting 38.7 percent from 3-point range. One of the frontrunners for Big East Player of the Year, Smith-Rivera hit the 25-point mark six different times.
Sophomore L.J. Peak was a pleasant surprise last season, grabbing one of the starting wing spots and keeping it all season. Peak is a power wing who can really finish in transition, but he was a streaky shooter during most of Big East play.
It’s unclear what role sophomore Tre Campbell will play, but expect to see him on the court more often. He had his moments during conference play and is the lone pure point guard on the team. Campbell allows the Hoyas to move Smith-Rivera off the ball or to play three guards with Peak on the other wing.
Key Losses: F Mikael Hopkins, C Joshua Smith, G Jabril Trawick
Top Players: G D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, G/F L.J. Peak, F Paul White, F Isaac Copeland, C Jessie Govan
John Thompson III needed some frontcourt reinforcements in the 2015 class, and he certainly succeeded in getting some. Jessie Govan is one of the best low-post scorers in the class and can be counted on as a go-to-guy from Day 1. Marcus Derrickson is very skilled and is tailor-made for the Hoyas’ offensive system. Wing Kaleb Johnson saw his stock rise as a senior and can score from all over the court.
Villanova is the Big East favorite again, but there’s a clear-cut top four — and Georgetown is among that group. Where exactly the Hoyas fit into the pecking order is up for debate and will likely come down to how quickly the freshmen acclimate to the college game, as well as how big a leap the sophomores take.
Thompson III is counting heavily upon Govan to make an immediate impact, and he needs Copeland or White to have a breakout season up front. If that happens, Georgetown suddenly has one of the league’s most talented frontcourts to go with one of the best guards in the Big East.
Is this the year Georgetown finally breaks its NCAA Tournament second-weekend slump? The talent is there, the depth is there, the experience and versatility are there — the Hoyas just need their young players to grow up quickly.