Center of attention: Hoyas freshman opens possibilities


Center of attention: Hoyas freshman opens possibilities

One could argue Georgetown doesn't make the NCAA Tournament last season without center Joshua Smith. The beefy big man largely accounted for all of the Hoyas' interior scoring, made over 62 percent of his field goal attempts and tied for the team lead in rebounds.

Here's another argument: Smith limited Georgetown. The 350-pounder's lack of mobility curtailed fast break opportunities and reduced defensive schemes. Ball movement in coach John Thompson III's motion offense often stalled when reaching Smith inside. Driving lanes didn't exist as defenses kept bodies inside with the senior camped on the low block.

That's all about to change and not just because Smith moved on to the pro ranks.

Consider the presence of freshman center Jessie Govan. Thompson's desired free-flowing offense now has a versatile big man for the first time since Henry Sims in 2012. Adding the 6-foot-10 center to the other pieces on the roster means the idea of interchangeable defenders is back on the menu.

"Jessie allows us -- There has been a large part, both offensively and defensively, things we haven't been able to focus on, take advantage of," Thompson said during a recent interview with

Georgetown is "Big Man U" because of centers Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. Now, don't go thinking Govan, one of three four-star recruits entering the program this season is on the level of those eventual NBA stars. That's not a fair comparison for any young player. What the New York native can do is score inside and away from the basket. He can contribute in true team scenarios.

Govan can simply provide his coach a two-way center, the kind Thompson discussed with the New York Times in 2000 before his first season as Princeton's head coach. Specifically, he mentioned some advice his famous father, Georgetown coaching legend John Thompson Jr., passed down.

''He told me to get a center,'' said Thompson, smiling at the memory. ''Having a center solves more problems than you realize, both in basketball and in life.''

Reminded of this passage, the coach playfully jabbed at the reporter's research -- "You're really bored, huh." -- before discussing Govan. 

"Not to say Jessie as a freshman is what Jessie is going to be when he leaves, but he's skilled and yet he's physical. He can go on the block and be very effective just with his sheer size, physicality and skill level," Thompson said. "He can also do the things you want to do at the mid-post and the high-post.

"He's able to help four guys and himself, not just help himself or need four guys to help him. That will make things a lot easier for everyone."

Thompson said Govan could end up starting the regular season opener against Radford on Nov. 14, though he cautioned against overlooking senior Bradley Hayes. The seldom-used center stepped up when Smith and others were in foul trouble during Georgetown's NCAA Tournament opener against Eastern Washington. His active presence sparked a first half rally in the eventual 84-74 win.

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"The NCAA Tournament was like an 'ah ha' moment for him," Thompson said of Hayes.

College basketball teams need size and depth at center. Perhaps the Hoyas have just that with Govan and Hayes. It appears they have two active big men including one with sincere upside. Govan can help Thompson utilize much more of his playbook this season. Having that type of center solves more problems than you realize, both in basketball and in life, a wise man once said. 

Georgetown gets a boost with Jessie Govan returning to school

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Georgetown gets a boost with Jessie Govan returning to school

After testing the NBA Draft waters, Georgetown center Jessie Govan decided to return to the Hoyas for his senior season.

Govan announced his intention to return on Instagram a week before the final commitment deadline.

Returning to the Hoyas is definitely a boost to the program that will be in their second year under head coach Patrick Ewing.  At 6-10, Govan was the team’s leading scorer (17.9 ppg) and rebounder (10.0 rpg) averaging a double-double last season.

Paired alongside power forward Marcus Derrickson, the Hoyas were nearly unstoppable in the paint. Derrickson though decided to forgo his senior year and signed with an agent after the season.

Had Govan decided to leave that would have meant over 56 percent of the team’s scoring and rebounding would have departed (to graduation or professional pursuits) in a handful of months. Not the best outlook for a 15-win team that went 5-13 in the Big East.

Instead Ewing gets back his leading scorer that many believe he can mold as a young protégée. While in the draft process without an agent Govan had workouts with the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. Both are valuable experiences that he will bring to a relatively young Georgetown squad.

Having Govan for one more year will bridge Ewing’s second season to transfer big-man, Omer Yurtseven to his first year of eligibility in 2019. They were set up to having a walk-on and two sophomores being the only returning Hoyas over 6-6 for the upcoming season.


Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State


Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.


Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.