Team: Georgetown Hoyas
2018-19 Record: 19-14, 9-9 Big East
2018-19 Big East Finish: Four-way tie for third place; ended up as the #6 seed in the conference tournament by way of tiebreakers.
Final 2018-19 KenPom Ranking: #100
Postseason? Earned a #3 seed in the NIT, but lost 71-68 at home in the first round to Harvard.
Key Departures: Jessie Govan is the main name to know, as the Hoyas will have to figure out how to replace their leading scorer (17.5 points) and rebounder (7.5 rebounds). Govan also shot 41% from long range, and at 6’10”, that’s a hellacious combo. Trey Mourning (6.3 points, 3.8 rebounds) and Greg Malinowski (5.7 points, 3.2 rebounds) were both part-time starters and averaged more than 15 minutes per game last season. Not crucial cogs, but notable in the rotation.
Key Returners: The freshman trio of James Akinjo, Mac McClung, and Josh LeBlanc are all back, and that’s all you really need to know. Akinjo was the Big East Freshman of the Year last season, averaging 13.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, and a Big East best 5.2 assists per game. McClung well outplayed his recruiting ranking coming in to average 13.1 points, 2.6, and 2.0 assists. LeBlanc was neck-and-neck with Govan for the team lead in rebounds at 7.3 per contest, and added 9.1 points per game, too.
Key Additions: The Hoyas have 247 Sports’ #53 ranked recruiting class, but that’s a bit of more volume than anything else. They have four freshmen coming in this fall, but three of the prospects are ranked somewhere between #240 and #280. Qudus Wahab is a 6’10”, 230 pound center out of Virginia that picked up a #132 ranking, but his impact is going to be largely muted by Georgetown’s true major addition. Barring a major surprise, Omer Yurtseven is going to be the Hoyas’ starting center and play all the minutes that he would care to play. He averaged 13.5 points and 6.7 rebounds as a sophomore at NC State in 2017-18 and sat out last year in accordance with the NCAA transfer rules. He only played 59% of the time, though, and ended up as a top 60 offensive rebounder in terms of rate per KenPom.com and a top 70 shot blocker. He’s also a quality three-point shooter, knocking down exactly half of his 44 attempts in 33 games.
Coach: Patrick Ewing, entering his third season. He has a record of 34-29.
Outlook: We don’t know for absolute certain how Omer Yurtseven fits in to things here, but he has been practicing with the Hoyas for a whole year. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be the worst opinion in the civilized world to think that Patrick Ewing can just swap Yurtseven in for Jessie Govan and just run what pretty much ends up being the exact same crew back for another season. If you want to wonder if Yurtseven can step up his minutes to cover the same length of time on the court that Govan did, that’s fine, but that’s a minor issue at best.
The question becomes what’s the ceiling for Georgetown’s freshmen from last year? A smart man once said that the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores. If we presume that James Akinjo, Mac McClung, and Josh LeBlanc have shaken all the kinks and hiccups out of their system while adjusting to college basketball, then it would stand to reason that the Hoyas should be aimed at their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2015.
On one hand, they won three of their final four regular season games to finish at exactly .500 in league play. You really don’t get more impressive wins than “walked into Milwaukee and outdueled Marquette, who was gifted a chance to win a Big East title right before the game started,” which is what they did in their regular season finale. That’s a pretty solid sign that the soon-to-be sophomores are ready for a bigger stage.
On the other hand.....
Georgetown lost three of their final four games on the season. They got absolutely hammered by DePaul, 101-69, at Wintrust Arena, giving up runs of 12-0 and 17-0 in the first 14 minutes. After pulling off that Marquette win, the Hoyas then went to Madison Square Garden for the Big East tournament and gave up runs of 13-2 and 18-3 in the first 14 minutes to fall behind 35-15 and end up losing by 17 to Seton Hall. They then lost at McDonough Arena to Harvard in the first round of the NIT in a game where KenPom gave them a 73% chance to win at tipoff.
Look, I get that sometimes the NIT first round is a battle of who wants to be there more. But getting clattered repeatedly as the season winds down is not a fantastic way of showing that your freshmen have matured into the figures that are going to carry the program for the next couple of seasons. On top of that, “we’re bringing almost everyone back” isn’t the best thing in the world every single time. You’re not guaranteed to be better just because you have essentially the same roster. Sometimes you maxed out what you could get out of that roster and there’s nowhere to grow.
In theory, Georgetown should be better this coming season. In practice and execution? I think there’s more than enough question marks to wonder if they will be.