Every fall, the newest batch of Hoya student-athletes arrives on the Hilltop, touted as some of the best recruits in the country. As each sport gets underway, coaches and fans are eager to see which Hoyas will stand out from the pack and make immediate contributions to their teams.
Several athletes in this year’s freshman class managed those lofty expectations and stood out, even on teams crowded with upperclassmen. These first-year Hoyas, including one first-year coach, quickly found ways to contribute on their respective squads and show promise for the years to come.
Men’s Basketball: Isaac Copeland, freshman forward
Entering the season, Copeland was expected to make an immediate impact as a five-star recruit ranked No. 16 nationally in the incoming class, and it did not take long for Copeland to become a mainstay on the team.
On Jan. 17, Georgetown was trailing Butler by one point with 10 seconds left in regulation and had control of the ball. In the past, senior forward Jabril Trawick or junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera would have taken this shot. Instead, Trawick penetrated the seam and passed to Copeland, who was planted in the corner. Without hesitation, Copeland buried a three-pointer, causing the packed Verizon Center to erupt in cheers for an accomplishment that was uniquely Copeland’s.
Copeland’s efforts earned him a spot in the starting rotation mid-February. The freshman forward’s season was highlighted by a ferocious dunk against St. John’s on Feb. 17 and performances like a career-high 20-point game against Seton Hall on Feb. 10 that ended a stretch in which Georgetown had lost three of its last four games.
Copeland, who ended the season with a 14-point performance against Utah in the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament, is a talented, often explosive young guard with three promising years ahead of him.
Women’s Basketball: Dorothy Adomako, freshman guard
Adomako’s impact on the women’s basketball team was apparent from Georgetown’s first game of the season.
Facing the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in her first collegiate game, Adomako scored on the first two shots of the game. The freshman guard went on to notch a double-double, finishing with 17 points and grabbing a team-leading 14 rebounds in the victory.
“Dorothy knows that she’s a competitor,” Head Coach Natasha Adair said. “She’s not a kid that’s afraid of the pressure or doesn’t want it. We knew that she was going to give everything that she could.”
A bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season in which the women’s basketball team finished with a 4-27 record, Adomako averaged 13.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, both team highs. She led all freshmen in the Big East in rebounds per game and earned the Big East Freshman of the Year award.
In addition to her individual successes for the season, both coach and player believe that Adomako will only continue to grow as a player and a leader when the team returns to action in the fall.
“Coach has definitely told me that my leadership definitely needs to step up,” Adomako said. “Sophomore year, I definitely need to step up on and off the court.”
Men’s Soccer: Arun Basuljevic, freshman midfielder
When the men’s soccer team’s season came down to penalty kicks against Virginia in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals, Head Coach Brian Wiese knew that getting 10 players to volunteer to take a potentially season-ending shot for the team might prove difficult.
“[Taking a penalty kick is] not something that a lot of guys want to do in that situation — it’s amazing how few people actually want to stand up there,” Wiese said.
Described as a confident young player, freshman midfielder Arun Basuljevic was among the 10 who offered to be one of the penalty kickers for Georgetown.
“He didn’t think twice about it,” Wiese said.
Although the end result was not what Basuljevic had hoped for, as his shot hit the right post, one penalty kick did not taint a standout season for the freshman. Basuljevic scored six goals for the Hoyas during the season, the second most of the entire team, four of which were game-winning goals.
Basuljevic’s season-long efforts and his growth as a player earned him both the Big East Rookie of the Year and high expectations from his coach going into next season.
“I think how he interfaces with a pretty experienced group around him is going to be vital for our success next year,” Wiese said. “Not just to be able to communicate, but to be a leader in his own right — I think we expect that of him.”
Football: Head Coach Rob Sgarlata
With nearly 40 years of experience on the Hilltop, Rob Sgarlata (COL ’94, GRD ’12) may be as Georgetown as Georgetown gets.
“I’ve called this place home since 1990,” Sgarlata said. “It’s been a dream to be here and have a chance to work with our student athletes and be at a place I’ve called home for a long time.”
One of the program’s all-time leading rushers, Sgarlata played for the team all four years as an underclassman before joining the coaching staff. Before he was appointed head coach of the football team in January 2014, Sgarlata served in diverse roles throughout the football program. From serving as an academic advisor to a technology liaison to an offensive and defensive coordinator for the team, Sgarlata has worked a combined 18 years within the football program.
After so many years on the Hilltop, Sgarlata ascended to lead the football team this year, finishing with a 3-8 record on the year.
“I’ve had opportunities to leave … but I truly believe that our football program and the athletic programs here in general at Georgetown are ones that value the right things,” Sgarlata said.
Men’s Lacrosse: Nick Marrocco, freshman goalkeeper
Growing up in a family of lacrosse players, including a sister who is a goalkeeper at the University of Richmond, Nick Marrocco seemed genetically predisposed to develop into the defensive stalwart he is today.
However, the road from high school to the competitive world of Division I lacrosse was not without its trials.
“The beginning of the year was a little tough just to come in new. It’s more fast-paced, totally different from high school,” Marrocco said.
Marrocco appears to have shed any vestiges of his early struggles, when he allowed 23 goals in comparison to 17 saves over his first two games. On the 8-5 men’s lacrosse team, the goalkeeper now averages 13.46 saves per game, good for the second-most saves per game in the country, and has a .563 save percentage, the 12th-best record in Division I lacrosse today. Marrocco earned the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Defensive Player of the Week award on March 30 for his performance, making him the first athlete in Georgetown history to earn that distinction.
“I think the best thing about Nick is that he’s improved since he stepped on campus,” Head Coach Kevin Warne said. “I think the guys respect him. … The team has the confidence in Nick that he can bail us out at any time.”
Women’s Golf: freshman Jacquelyn Eleey
In a team with three times as many freshmen as seniors, the Georgetown women’s golf team could have easily chalked this season up as a rebuilding year.
Instead, the Hoyas battled all season long and earned a second-place finish in the Big East tournament. Georgetown finished one stroke behind the first-place Seton Hall team — who had three times as many seniors as freshmen.
At the center of Georgetown’s success was freshman Jacquelyn Eleey, who posted an overall score of 7-over par 223 to win the individual title. The feat was nothing new for Eleey — she tied for the top spot in the Hoya Invitational in March and led the Hoyas in four of their five spring tournaments.
“I’m really proud of Jackie,” Head Coach Katie Brophy said earlier this week (“Golf | Freshmen Highlight Weekend,” A9, The Hoya, April 21). “Her success is a sign of all her hard work, dedication and drive.”