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Coach John Thompson III characterized Georgetown's 2008-09 season as "terribly disappointing." True as that may be, the Hoyas aren't likely to finish 16-15 and miss the NCAA tournament again this season. Even with forward DeJuan Summers entering the NBA draft, Georgetown will boast one of the most experienced teams in the Big East, thanks to the return of starters Austin Freeman, Greg Monroe and Chris Wright. All three are former McDonald's All-Americans who no doubt were hardened by the struggles and unfulfilled expectations of last season. "Sometimes," Thompson said, "you have to go through growing pains to improve."
Greg Monroe earned Big East Freshman of the Year honors last season after averaging 12.7 points and 6.5 rebounds.
Monroe earned Big East Freshman of the Year honors last season after averaging 12.7 points and 6.5 rebounds. He would've been a lottery pick had he entered the NBA draft. Convincing him to return to school was one of Thompson's biggest recruiting coups. Nikita Mescheriakov returns at small forward, but there's a good chance he could be beaten out by Hollis Thompson, a top-50 recruit who grayshirted last season. Thompson III said freshman Jerrelle Benimon is extremely physical and aggressive for his age, which could lead to immediate playing time. The coach also was impressed with the strides made in the offseason by sophomore Henry Sims and junior Julian Vaughn, who began his career at Florida State. Despite a lackluster junior season, Summers declared for the NBA draft and actually performed quite well during summer league play for the Detroit Pistons, who selected him in the second round.
The graduation of Jessie Sapp and the transfer of Omar Wattad has left the Hoyas with little depth in the backcourt. Luckily, starters Freeman and Wright are talented enough to shoulder most of the load. Wright (12.5) and Freeman (11.4) averaged double-figures in scoring as sophomores last season. Wright also dished out a team-high 3.8 assists per game. Both should improve as juniors -- especially Freeman, who lost a considerable amount of weight during the offseason after ballooning to nearly 240 pounds. The biggest contribution off the bench likely will come from sophomore Jason Clark, who averaged 18.3 minutes as a freshman.
Just as they did in 2008-09 -- when they lost 12 of their final 16 games -- the Hoyas will enter the season with high expectations. With Freeman and Wright stepping into bigger leadership roles as juniors, and with Monroe poised for improvement in his second season, there's no reason to believe that Georgetown won't be one of the Big East's top teams.
Preseason rankings were compiled by basketball writers David Fox, Mike Huguenin, Jason King and Steve Megargee.