It's never too early to start to look ahead to next season. Over the coming weeks, we will examine what comes next for each team in the Power 5 conferences and also those outside the Power 5 that could make noise on the national stage. Today: the Georgetown Hoyas.
Can a team be consistently good and underachieving at the same time? It would seem Georgetown has attained the oxymoron of accomplishment.
It's hard to discredit what the Hoyas have done -- six NCAA tournament appearances in the last 10 years -- but the bar is high, maybe even unfairly high, so you can't help but be left wanting more.
Why? Because of those six NCAA tournament appearances, none have included a trip beyond the second round. The Hoyas haven't accomplished that since 2007. And worse, Georgetown was slayed by a Cinderella team (10 seed or higher) in all but one of their losses in that span.
Georgetown is still Georgetown, especially in the remixed Big East, but fans understandably might want the Hoyas to be a little more Georgetown-y.
This year, the Hoyas very well could be.
A year ago, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera was picked as the preseason Big East player of the year. He didn't win the award at the end of the season, but that says just how highly regarded the rising senior is. He led the Hoyas in scoring, averaging 16.3 points, and could have been in the running for the award had Georgetown achieved better than a 22-11, 12-6 finish.
But what makes Georgetown so much more appealing this season is that Smith-Rivera doesn't have to do it all this season. A host of returning players coupled with an intriguing recruiting class -- and one especially eye-popping addition -- should make Georgetown look a lot more Georgetown-y this season.
With Villanova holding serve at the top of the conference, Butler asserting itself as a contender, Providence back on the right side of success and St. John's under new leadership, the Big East quickly has found solid footing in its old/new configuration.
A Georgetown team that performs like Georgetown is expected to perform -- in March, as well as November through February -- certainly wouldn't hurt.
What the immediate future holds: So what made Georgetown so good for so long? Big men, of course. There aren't many programs more associated with a singular position than the Hoyas are with the center spot.
It's slightly hyperbolic to slide Jessie Govan onto the list, but the center is giving Hoyas fans a legitimate reason to be excited. Credit John Thompson III for turning the risky decision that was UCLA transfer Josh Smith into a positive -- he averaged 10.3 points for the Hoyas last season -- but there is no risk with Govan. An ESPN top 100 player and 11th at his position, the New Yorker has received rave reviews from almost all recruiting analysts, celebrated for both his offensive and defensive games.
Govan, a true back-to-the-basket scorer, is the anchor to a recruiting class ranked 26th in the nation, strengthened by the addition of power forward Marcus Derrickson and shooting guard Kaleb Johnson. Derrickson, another top 100 player, has been lauded for his conditioning, not a typical concentration for a kid still in high school. At 6-7, his ability to sink 3-pointers makes him a critical mismatch as well.
This new crop of top recruits will partner with a class of sophomores who were ranked seventh nationally a year ago. Isaac Copeland, Paul White, L.J. Peak and Tre Campbell won't have to fight for space with Smith, Jabril Trawick and Mikael Hopkins gone, but they also can't hide in the shadows any longer.
Copeland and Leak both were Big East rookie selections last season. Leak finished fourth in scoring, at 7.9 points per game, and Copeland, who struggled early, found his rhythm in mid-January and showed the sort of promise that has even the cautious Thompson excited.
Of course, everyone is really a backup to Smith-Rivera in terms of importance to the team. The Hoyas will go as he goes, and so far in his career, he has gone quite far and quite well. He briefly put his name into the NBA draft, making Georgetown fans understandably nervous, but quickly decided to return for his senior season. He has been a regular in the lineup since he arrived on campus, becoming a better and more savvy player each season.
Georgetown has long been his team but never more so this season.