Another year, another five freshmen.
“We’re young,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “I can’t lose sight of the fact that it’s going to be freshmen and sophomores that we’re going to depend on a lot.”
You don’t say.
After a season in which the Class of 2015 accounted for more than one-third of Georgetown’s minutes played and 29 percent of its points scored, the Hoyas now have 10 underclassmen on their roster and will again be looking to the new guys for big contributions.
“I’m not going into it with that particular thought process — that this year’s freshmen have to play as much or contribute as much as last year’s freshmen,” Thompson said. “But if they are able to, they will.”
Given the departures of Henry Sims, Hollis Thompson and Jason Clark — who accounted for 45 percent of the minutes and 56 percent of the scoring last year — Georgetown had better hope they are able to.
Leading the incoming cavalry is the 58th-ranked player from the 2012 ESPN 100, guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. The 6-foot-3, 227-pound Indianapolis native attended high school basketball powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, where he propelled his team to an undefeated season as a senior while averaging 23.5 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.4 blocks, 3.0 steals and 2.7 assists per game.
Sophomore guard Jabril Trawick pointed to Smith-Rivera as the freshman he believes is most likely to make a difference from day one.
“Mentally, he’s ready, I think, as well as physically,” Trawick said. “All of [the freshmen] are ready, we’ve all been working hard, but definitely D’Vauntes stands out to me. He’s really mature as a freshman.”
Junior guard Markel Starks also thinks that Smith-Rivera will make an impression early in his career.
“[He] is a physical guard, he’s a big guard and he can shoot,” Starks said. “And he can score. So you put all that together, and you have a dynamic player, if not this year, then definitely next year. But his impact this year is going to be felt — I do believe that.”
Challenging Smith-Rivera in the hype department is forward Stephen Domingo, a 6-foot-6, 206-pound sharpshooter from San Francisco, who chose in July to forgo his senior year of high school to enroll at Georgetown. Domingo was ranked at No. 77 on the 2012 ESPN 100 and played for the 2012 USA U-17 World Championship team in June, starting six of eight games in the tournament en route to a gold medal. He has already drawn comparisons to Hollis Thompson, another wingman and three-point shooter from the West Coast who also left high school early for the Hilltop.
Domingo didn’t play much in the Kenner League this summer because of NCAA eligibility issues, but Trawick already likes what he’s seen from the newcomer.
“I think he fits in the offense,” Trawick said of Domingo. “He’s a great shooter. He’s a smart player as well, even though he’s young.”
Georgetown also adds depth down low with centers Brandon Bolden and Bradley Hayes. Bolden is 6-foot-10, 205 pounds and hails from South Carolina; his high school career was marked by a transfer and a tailing off over his last two seasons, but he has the raw athleticism to become a meaningful contributor in time. Hayes is a monstrous 7-foot, 248-pound big man from Jacksonville who averaged 13.3 points and 12.2 rebounds per game as a high school senior. He missed the entire Kenner League season but has the necessary frame to become a legitimate force in the Big East.
Rounding out the freshman class is walk-on guard David Allen, who averaged 23 points, five rebounds and four assists as a senior at Highland Park High School in Texas. He scored his share of points in the Kenner League, but don’t expect him to play meaningful minutes for Georgetown this year.
In all, junior guard Markel Starks thinks the Hoyas have a solid batch of new faces to work with.
“I think our freshmen are really good from top to bottom,” he said. “We have some projects, and that’s fine. Georgetown has produced a lot of projects. Look at Henry Sims.”
While it took Sims until his senior year to develop into the kind of player the Hoyas thought they were getting when they recruited him, they’ll need noteworthy contributions from this group much sooner. Sophomores like forward Otto Porter know a thing or two about stepping up as first-years and have tried to impart wisdom on their newest teammates.
“Our past experience allows us to prepare the freshmen for what they’re about to go through,” Porter said. “We tell them to come here to work hard from day one. Everything else will come.”
Trawick went so far as to say that Georgetown will be dependent on their play.
“We need the freshmen,” Trawick said. “Just like last year, we played a big part, so I think that this year, too, the freshmen are going to be a big part of the team.”
At some other schools, it’s customary for new blood to carry a squad. While Georgetown may not be asking quite that much from players like Smith-Rivera and Domingo this year, the idea of relying on a second consecutive high-impact season from its freshman class represents a less-than-familiar — and perhaps less-than-comfortable — blueprint for Thompson’s squad.
“It doesn’t worry me, though,” Trawick said of the team’s youth. “Young team, youthful, athletic — we get up and down. We work hard, and we’ll be ready to play.”