Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Fresh Faces Arrive on the Scene

After a year that saw highly touted recruits Greg Monroe, Henry Sims and Jason Clark come to the Hilltop to play for Head Coach John Thompson III, this season’s crop of freshmen will have a tough act to follow.

Make no mistake – Monroe, Sims and Clark did not turn out to be a freshman class for the ages. But the quartet of Hollis Thompson, Vee Sanford, Jerrelle Benimon and Stephen Stepka simply does not possess the same hype as John Thompson III’s previous three recruiting classes, which included McDonald’s All-Americans Vernon Macklin (now at Florida), Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Monroe.

Although forward Hollis Thompson received significant attention from some of the nation’s top programs, Sanford was recruited by the likes of Baylor, Iowa, Georgia and Charlotte, while the Hoyas managed to beat out Old Dominion for Benimon’s services. Stepka came to the Hilltop after accepting an offer to make the team as a walk-on. Junior guard Ryan Dougherty, who played on Georgetown’s practice squad last season, will join also join the Hoyas this year.

When Georgetown lost the recruiting battle for Latavious Williams, one of the nation’s top forward prospects out of Humble, Texas, it seemed to be a major downside to John Thompson III’s recruiting season. Williams has since decided to spurn the NCAA and take his game overseas.

Regardless of expectations, the Hoyas will need depth and contributions up and down the roster to get off to a hot start.

“We’re going to need them right away,” Freeman said of the class of 2013 during Georgetown’s media day in October. “All the games we’re going to play leading up to the Big East, we’re going to need them right away. They’re going to have to learn fast. .

The sophomores even have to learn fast. We just need them to help us out this year.”

Still, there may be more than meets the eye when it comes to Georgetown’s newcomers. Hollis Thompson has the unique benefit of having an entire semester of practicing with the Hoyas under his belt. He graduated early from high school and began taking classes on campus in the spring.

“He’s a freshman, but he’s not a freshman,” John Thompson III said. “He knows what we’re trying to accomplish and how we want to accomplish it. . He’s acclimated to college life. . You’re put into an environment – on the team, on campus, around college – where all of a sudden everyone has settled into their routine. That was an adjustment for him. Now that he has gone through that, he’s more advanced obviously than any other freshman.”

Aside from Hollis, the other three freshmen will need to learn and adjust at a quick pace.

“[They need] to figure it out fast,” Thompson said of his team. “We have a group that’s walking around bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and they don’t know what’s going to hit them. As much as you go through these workouts, it’s much different from when we start for real. They’re working hard and they seem pretty bright. . I’m pleased with where they are right now, but when we go for real, we’ll see.”

Listed at 6-foot-7 and 205 pounds, the lanky Hollis Thompson should provide the Hoyas with another athletic wing player who can get to the rim, but who can also hurt opposing defenses with his jump shot. While John Thompson III may decide to use the three-guard lineup of Clark, Freeman and Wright, Hollis Thompson has a chance to crack the starting five at some point this season.

“Hollis – he seems really good right now,” redshirt sophomore forward Nikita Mescheriakov said. “I think he’s one of the best shooters right now on the team. He can probably shoot it with [a] very good percentage and put up good numbers this year.”

Vee Sanford will bring with him the ability to shoot from deep as well as a long frame that will help him create his own offense at times – he averaged more than 21 points per contest his senior year of high school.

At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, the Lexington Catholic product may lack the physical strength to excel immediately on the college level, but Sanford has a chance to develop into a contributor for the Hoyas, who struggled from beyond the arc last season.

Likewise, Benimon could find minutes because he possesses a skill Georgetown sorely lacked last season – a knack for rebounding. As a senior at Fauquier High School in Warrenton, Va., he filled up the stat sheet, turning in averages of 21 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists for a 21-4 team.

In signing Sanford and Benimon, John Thompson III has seemingly addressed two glaring weaknesses from a season ago – perimeter shooting and rebounding.

“We’re excited to get them in the game,” Sims said. “Vee and Jerrelle are good players. Jerrelle is an excellent rebounder and Vee is an excellent guard just all around. I’m just excited to play – everyone has gotten better, everybody has gotten a year older, so I’m just ready to see what we’ve got.”

Indeed, the Georgetown team that finished in 12th place in the Big East last season was one of the younger units in the conference, and that inexperience was evident at times. With the departures of Final Four stalwarts Jessie Sapp and DaJuan Summers, the underclassmen that learned on the fly a year ago – particularly Monroe, Wright and Freeman – are suddenly among the Hoyas’ leaders. Having the experience of coming into the program as freshmen fresh in their memory will allow them to help this year’s newcomers.

“Coming in, I remember how everyone tried to help me as I came in, tried to help me along,” Monroe said. “I think I’ve been trying to share the same things that people shared with me last year – both on the court and school. I try to help them. They ask a lot of questions, I try to give them the best answers I can.”

While there is no Greg Monroe in this freshman crop, the class of 2013 will be heard from before the end of the Hoyas’ quest to make a return to March basketball.

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