After a disappointing year in which the Hoyas had their first losing season under head coach John Thompson III, Georgetown heads into the 2016-’17 season with renewed optimism.
This is the same team that was predicted to finish second in the Big East last season. It returns almost the entire roster minus one big exception: D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.
The Hoyas are setting out to prove last season was an aberration and not indicative of the team they are. Make no mistake: Georgetown has the pieces to be in the thick of things next season and get back on the winning track.
How will that happen? Here are five questions that have to be answered.
— Michael Carey (@MexCarey) August 10, 2016
5. How will JTIII replace D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera?
Smith-Rivera certainly meant a lot to the Hoyas. His absence cannot, and likely will not, be addressed by one player.
In reality, it will likely take a team effort to replace Smith-Rivera. JTIII has a deep roster with talent at all positions, and his team is loaded with potential break-out stars to cushion the blow of losing one of the program’s top scorers.
Expect junior point guard Tre Campbell to take on the responsibility of handling the point guard duties, which we will discuss shortly. As for the scoring load, expect it to be a mix of Rodney Pryor, L.J. Peak and Issac Copeland chipping in to compensate for Smith-Rivera’s loss.
While the loss of Smith-Rivera stings, the cupboard is not bare and there are options Thompson can work with.
4. What should we expect from Robert Morris transfer Rodney Pryor?
As for the cliff notes version, Pryor immediately brings stability to Georgetown’s backcourt. He can score with the best of them. He is coming off a 2015-’16 season when he averaged 18 points and 8 rebounds per game, while earning NEC First-Team All-Conference honors.
It's Kenner League and the D isn't great and blah blah this Rodney Pryor show is getting 90+ on Rotten Tomatoes.
— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) August 6, 2016
He will largely be asked to replace some of the scoring load left by the departure of Smith-Rivera. While Pryor doesn’t have Smith-Rivera’s handles or shooting accuracy, he is highly athletic and will be a certifiable boon to JTIII’s offense.
3. Will Marcus Derrickson and Jessie Govan break out?
The Hoyas’ prospects for success took a favorable turn when center Bradley Hayes was given an additional year of eligibility. However, two sophomore big men — Marcus Derrickson and Jessie Govan — have Hoya fans excited. Both were named to the All-Big East Freshmen Team and possess limitless upside.
Derrickson (7.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game) and Govan (6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game) only offered small glimpses of what they are capable of last season. Derrickson is more of a combo forward who can play inside and out. Although Govan has a soft touch, he is more suited to being a brute down low, given his size and physique.
Expect both to be integral players in JTIII’s rotation and get a lot of touches on offense as they mature into their roles.
2. Can Tre Campbell handle the spotlight?
The smart and savvy Campbell will now get the keys to the car — JTIII will likely have the junior guard run his offense.
Campbell has shown in spurts the last two years that he is more than capable of running the show; he just had to bide his time. He has great vision, doesn’t turn the ball over much, and can occasionally knock down the perimeter jumper.
Though not flashy, Campbell is nonetheless effective.
Now that he will be afforded the chance to get significant minutes, expect Campbell to flourish.
1. Is this the year L.J. Peak and Isaac Copeland max out?
For two years we have seen Peak and Copeland tantalize us with their promise.
While they have been solid for the most part, and any team would love to have the services of these versatile players, there was hope for more. This coming season may bring forth the best of Peak and Copeland.
Look for the offense to cater to Peak (12.3 points per game) and Copeland (11.1 points per game) sans Smith-Rivera. Expect them to thrive while being JTIII’s new go-to-players.
The stars are aligning for this to be the year it all comes together for these talented juniors.