Following last season’s stunning run to the Big East tournament crown, Georgetown men’s basketball will look to build upon its momentum this year. A disappointing regular 2020-21 season was quickly overshadowed by the most impressive stretch of Georgetown men’s basketball Head Coach Patrick Ewing’s (CAS ’85) coaching career at the Hilltop. Even with the season’s positive ending, outsiders are down on the team’s chances of a repeat: the Hoyas are power ranked ninth, or third-to-last, in the Big East. The loss of Jamorko Pickett (graduated), Jahvon Blair (graduated), Chudier Bile (graduated) and Qudus Wahab (transferred), the team’s top four scorers from last year, definitely contributes to that belief. Even so, this Georgetown team has hope in last season’s Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player, sophomore guard Dante Harris, and preseason Big East Freshman of the Year first-year guard Aminu Mohammed.
Replacing Blair, Pickett, Bile and Wahab is a tall task, but thankfully, Georgetown has brought in its highest-rated recruiting class since 2014, headlined by five-star recruit Mohammed. The rest of the new Hoyas are first-years center Ryan Mutumbo, son of Hoya legend Dikembe Mutumbo (COL ’91), guard Jordan Riley, guard Tyler Beard and forward Jalin Billingsley and graduate transfer guard Kaiden Rice.
Hailing from Washington, D.C., Mohammed was ranked 24th in the nation because of his strong physique, high-motor hustle and ability to score off the dribble. He is the highest-ranked recruit to come to the Hilltop since 2014 and is expected to make shots for the Hoyas all season long.
Center Ryan Mutumbo, son of Georgetown and NBA legend Dikembe Mutumbo, provides a powerful interior presence on both ends. The four-star seven-footer from Atlanta, Ga., has a soft touch around the basket and looks like an instant high-impact player. Riley, a shooting guard, can blow by defenders and has the athleticism to finish above the rim. Beard, a point guard, and Billingsley, a power forward, round out the first-year class. Rice transferred to the Hilltop after graduating from The Citadel and should bring some perimeter shooting to the squad.
Outside of the newcomers, the Hoyas return some talent from last year’s group, most notably Harris. Harris went up a level in the postseason, notching three of his seven double-figure scoring games in the Big East Tournament. At Big East media day this October, Coach Ewing said he saw that talent in Harris all of last season and he “came in with a chip on his shoulder” and “had an outstanding freshman year.” Ewing anticipates further growth from Harris, saying he “expects a great year and a significant leap” out of the sophomore guard. If Harris makes that leap, the Hoyas could be scary this season.
Other key returners include graduate guard Donald Carey, who will play an important role as a very young team’s elder statesman. After naming him captain, Ewing referred to Carey as a great role model for the new guys. Another key contributor will be junior center Timothy Ighoefe, who will fill Wahab’s spot as the Hoyas’ starting center with interior dominance on both ends. Also to look out for are second-year breakouts in sophomore forwards Collin Holloway and Kobe Clark; the two did not see much playing time last season but will definitely have the chance to earn it this year.
The new Georgetown team will have its work cut out for this season in a competitive Big East. Villanova is the favorite, ranked fourth in the country, with UConn as the consensus number two in the conference. Still, the Hoyas can shake things up. Ewing noted the conference will be competitive.
“Everyone in the Big East is capable of knocking everyone else out,” Ewing said at Big East media day.
Outside of Villanova and UConn, the conference is as wide open as ever. Xavier, St. John’s, Creighton and Seton Hall could all end up in the running for a regular season title. The conference may not be top-heavy, but it is deep.
Thankfully, the Hoyas do not face much competition to start out the year. Their out-of-conference schedule is light, beginning with a home bout against Dartmouth this Saturday, Nov. 13. Their toughest non-conference game will come against archrival Syracuse, again at home, Saturday, Dec. 11.
As for Big East play, there will be an important stretch in January. How the Hoyas fare during early games against St. John’s, Villanova and UConn in January and February will be hugely indicative of how successful the rest of their season can be.
There is a lot that points to improvement for this year’s men’s basketball team. With the arrival of a talented recruiting class, improvements from returning players and strong coaching from Ewing, the Hoyas look poised to parlay last season’s Big East Tournament run into long-term success.