“With the seventh pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons select Greg Monroe, Georgetown University.”
When former Hoya center Greg Monroe heard those words and walked onstage at The Theater at Madison Square Garden to shake NBA Commissioner David Stern’s hand on June 24, a childhood dream came true. After two years playing under Head Coach John Thompson III, the Louisiana big man will begin his professional career in the Motor City.
Kentucky point guard John Wall, Ohio State guard Evan Turner, Georgia Tech forward Derrick Favors, Syracuse wing Wes Johnson, Kentucky forward DeMarcus Cousins and Baylor center Ekpe Udoh were the players that preceded Monroe’s selection on draft night.
Playing for a franchise that reigned as an Eastern Conference power for most of the 2000s, Monroe will join former teammate DaJuan Summers – taken by the Pistons in the second round of the 2009 NBA draft – in Detroit. Along with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Jeff Green (No. 5 overall to Boston in 2007) and the Indiana Pacers’ Roy Hibbert (No. 17 overall to Toronto in 2008), Monroe is one of three Hoyas in the last four years to be drafted in the top 20.
Leading up to the draft, pundits projected Monroe to go anywhere from No. 5 to No. 10, and once Golden State passed on him in favor of Udoh with the sixth pick, the frontcourt-challenged Pistons were happy to scoop up a player who could start from day one.
onroe, who is listed as a center on Detroit’s roster, should also see time at the four and enters the NBA with the “Georgetown big man” label. But he is cut from a different cloth than former NBA All-Stars Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning. In a draft headlined by Wall, some believe that Monroe is actually the best passer in the 2010 crop. Unlike his Hoya predecessors, he is not a dominant shot shot blocker and has the ability to put the ball on the floor from the high post and get to the rim.
While the lefty possesses rare all-around talent for a 6-foot-10 center, he does not project as a future perennial NBA All Star. Still, his style is more tailored to excelling in a supporting role – think Green supplementing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City or Lamar Odom coming off the bench for the Lakers.
As a senior at Helen Cox High School in New Orleans, Monroe made his official visit to the Hilltop in October 2007 at Midnight Madness. Thompson was able to gain a commitment from the prized center, tabbed as the best big in the Class of 2008 at various points throughout the recruiting process. While some questioned his desire to take over in a game as well as his physical strength, Monroe, inconsistent at times, played his way to Big East Rookie of the Year honors his freshman season with averages of 12.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 2.5 assists.
Had he decided to bolt for the NBA after just one year at Georgetown, he might have been a top-five pick. Instead, Monroe decided he needed to get better across the board and looking at his numbers, Monroe showed marked improvement. He turned in averages of 16.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists. Although his field goal percentage was down from just over 57 percent to 52.5 percent – too low for a paint player – some of that can be attributed to the fact he took 135 more shots in 2009-2010, including 21 more threes, along with his occasional struggles of finishing around the rim.
Adding to his collegiate accolades, Monroe was named to the All-Big East first team and received AP third team All-America honors.
In the heat of the moment after the third-seeded Hoyas were embarrassed by 14th-seeded Ohio in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Monroe expressed his intention to return to Georgetown for his junior season – a sentiment Thompson prophetically downplayed at the time. Three months after that defeat, with his former head coach watching from the audience at MSG, the 20-year-old Monroe became a Detroit Piston.