This past fall, four-star center Ryan Mutombo announced his commitment to play for Georgetown men’s basketball. Mutombo, a dominant high school player, has put up big numbers as a senior, blown past the 1,500-point milestone for his high school career, been named to the First Team All-Region and led the Lovett School Lions to a 19-7 record. The Lions are set to play in the quarterfinals of the Georgia High School Association Class AA State Tournament on Wednesday.
A few weeks ago, I got the chance to speak to Mutombo on Zoom about his strengths as a player, his decision to come to Georgetown and his goals for the future. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
First things first: how tall are you now?
“I am 6 foot, 10 ¾ inches officially.”
What are your strengths as a basketball player?
“My biggest strength, I’d say, is my post footwork and my moves close to the basket. After that definitely my defense and my midrange shot. I’m still working on expanding my range, but those three are definitely at the top of my skill set.”
What are some things you hope to add to your game?
“Definitely a three-point shot. I’ve gotten comfortable with shooting the high school three but the college three is a little bit further back and that’s definitely one thing I’m focused on this summer. Just adding that three-pointer to my game and also getting better at guarding smaller guys on the wing.”
What attracted you to Georgetown, both in terms of basketball and in general?
“What attracted me to Georgetown was just the opportunity to get on the floor and play right away, as well as the opportunity to be coached by Patrick Ewing. If I’m looking to be a great big man at the next level, it was sort of a no-brainer. Why not go to the school that has a Hall of Fame big man as the head coach? Obviously you can’t go wrong with Georgetown academically; the campus is filled with brilliant people and brilliant professors.”
The 2021 group of commits is Georgetown’s most highly ranked since 2014. How does it feel to be a part of such a strong recruiting class?
“I think we’re going to have the opportunity to make a really big statement. I’ve been talking to Tyler, Jalin, Jordan, Aminu, and we’re all just excited to just get there and start working. We’ll be colloquially known as ‘the freshmen’ on campus, so we’re all excited to prove our skill set against the guys that have been in the program for a couple years.”
What goals do you have for your time on the Hilltop?
“I definitely want to finish top three in the Big East in rebounds and definitely want to establish myself as one of the best defenders in the country. A Big East title wouldn’t hurt; neither would Big East Freshman of the Year. The opportunity to pursue some of those superlatives is what I’m after. Coming out of high school, I’m just hungry, and that’s pretty much it.”
Your dad, Hoya legend Dikembe Mutombo (SLL ’91), has been very involved in humanitarian work in the years after his NBA career. What do you hope to accomplish off the basketball court?
“If I have a successful playing career, my goal is definitely to put money back into inner-city Atlanta, especially youth programs that help stop the marginalization of communities of color. I’m definitely looking forward to moving back to Atlanta, hopefully after I retire, and starting a second career as a community leader. That’s something that I’ve been passionate about for the past couple of years, and I’ve found different ways to use my platform to speak on things that I care about, and that’s something I want to continue to do through college, through the pros and into retirement.”
When did you realize that you had that platform and that so many people were listening?
“This summer. I’m a part of a youth organization called Buckhead for Black Lives that deals with the experience of students of color in predominantly white private schools in Atlanta, and we hosted a Black Lives Matter march. With maybe two days’ notice, over 5,000 people showed up to the march. It was just absolutely surreal and I was so happy that I got to be a part of it. Seeing all those people in front of me, I realized that I can really do something with this.”
Do you have a message for the Georgetown fanbase?
“My message for the Georgetown fanbase is to trust the process that the basketball team is going through. There are never any guarantees in sports on a positive outcome, so I’m not going to go out of hand and say that we’re going to win a national championship or we’re guaranteed the Big East title, but at the end of the day just know that you’re getting a group of guys that are going to show up everyday in practice and in the games and work their asses off. That’s really what it’s all about. As a college sports fan, I wouldn’t want anything more than just a player that puts his head down every single day and just works for what he wants, and that’s exactly the type of guys that Coach Ewing recruited to come to the program. So trust the process, trust in the freshmen and just believe. Just believe, you gotta have the spirit of a Hoya!”
Caden Koontz is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. Hoya Headlines appears online every other week.