As one of the preeminent names of Big East lore, the single mention of the word Georgetown elicits a lot of thoughts past and present. Considering it’s one of the flagship programs of the Big East, Georgetown carries a lot of weight, and expect that to be the case once again in the 2015-16 season .
With veteran all-Big East guard in D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and a group of emerging sophomores and freshmen, head coach John Thompson III really has something special brewing in the nation’s capitol.
He has something every team loves to have and that is senior leadership from one of the better guards in the country (Smith-Rivera), as a well as collection of young talent that is both extremely skilled and versatile.
Leading the way for the Hoyas, of course, is Smith-Rivera. He wisely rescinded his name from the NBA draft and is back for some unfinished business. The 6-foot-3, 215 pound guard is coming off a season in which he averaged 16.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting .387 percent from three-point range, while being named to the all-Big East First Team. When it comes to senior guards, they don’t come much better.
Smith-Rivera, who can play either guard position, has a hunger inside in him to make this a special season. He discussed that desire while at Big East’s media day last week.
“Definitely,” Smith-Rivera said when asked if this season was about unfinished business. “I want to win a Big East title in my last year. There was a lot of things I felt were un-accomplished over the past couple of years. You want to get better. Those were some things (not advancing far in the NCAA Tournament) left undone for me. And as a player I just want to get better and help my team win.”
VIDEO: D'Vaunted Smith-Rivera speaks about season ahead pic.twitter.com/tMr2qRtbCx
— Today's U (@TodaysUSports) October 14, 2015
(*Sorry for the obvious typo in above tweet, damn you auto correct.)
For Thompson it’s not all about Smith-Rivera, though. He also has an uber-talented collection of sophomore talent that includes Isaac Copeland, L.J. Peak, Paul White, Tre Campbell and Trey Mourning. Not only that, Thompson and the Hoyas welcome in a couple of promising freshmen in Marcus Derrickson, Jessie Govan and Kaleb Johnson. Derrickson and Govan are primed for big minutes in the front court.
That’s some great talent from top to bottom. So much so, that the Hoyas could legitimately challenge Villanova for the Big East crown this season. After all, theywere somewhat close last season, finishing in a tie for second place with a 12-6 conference mark.
When it comes to the young talent to watch for, look for Copeland and Peak in particular to blossom into stars, as they have the skills and versatility to reach new heights in their sophomore seasons. With a year of experience under the belt, expect across the board improvement from both.
“I want to have a better year than we did last year, even though it wasn’t too bad” said Copeland at media day.
Copeland, though, wants the most out the season ahead.
“We want to make it to the Big East championship,” Copeland said. “I’m looking forward to winning more games. We’re very versatile and we’ve got a lot of guys that are interchangeable. We should have a good season.”
Copeland is coming off a fine freshmen season. He made the Big East all-rookie team after averaging 6.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, while shooting .389 percent from three-point range. With an increase in minutes, the forward is line for bigger and better things. He is adept at playing both forward spots and take you down low, while knocking down jumpers with ease. The skill set he plays with is not often seen in players these days.
— Today's U (@TodaysUSports) October 14, 2015
Peak is another sophomore to keep your eye on.
He, too, is coming off a fine freshman season in which he averaged 7.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game while also being named to the Big East all-rookie team. Peak is a gifted scorer that will give Thompson even more versatility.
He has also learned a lot in his brief time with coach Thompson and is eager to learn eve more.
“It’s a pretty close relationship,” said Peak of his relationship with Thompson. “He tells me if I need to do anything (to work on my game) and if I’m doing anything wrong. He’s a great coach.”
As a sophomore, more is expected of Peak and he seems up for the task.
“I have to be more of a leader,” he said. “I have to take advantage of my chances and be ready to play hard all the time.”
— Hoyas247 (@Hoyas247) October 19, 2015
The Hoyas will still run through the exploits of Smith-Rivera, as he is the elder statesman of the team. However, he has the highest amount of respect and confidence in his teammates like Copeland and Peak.
“We got a lot of young but mature guys,” said Smith-Rivera. “At this point sophomores are considered upperclassmen. They know how to conduct themselves and they work really hard.”
With a little bit of something old in Smith-Rivera and a little something new in the sophomore and the freshmen classes, Thompson has a deep, talented and experienced squad to work with.
And if all comes together, this could just be the team to unseat Villanova.