George Mason sophomores Erik Copes and Vaughn Gray have been suspended for the Patriots first three regular-season games for student-athlete conduct violations, the school announced on Tuesday.
The suspension includes the home-opener against Virginia on November 9, at Bucknell (Nov. 13) and against Mercer (Nov. 16) in the opening game of the Paradise Jam.
Copes, the highest ranked recruit ever to sign with the Fairfax program, is expected to take over the interior defensive and rebounding vacancy created by the graduation of big men Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson. As a freshman Copes averaged 3.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while blocking 51 shots.
Gray played in 32 of the Patriots 33 games last season and the swingman averaged 3.4 points.
Both players will practice with the team, but will not dress for games. Copes and Gray will be eligible to play in the second game of the Paradise Jam, a three-game tournament in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
The Patriots packed their non-conference schedule this year in order to beef up their at-large NCAA Tournament resume as evidenced by those early games. Not only is Virginia an ACC program, but a the opportunity to play them or any major conference program at the Patriot Center is a rarity. Bucknell is a perennial Patriot League contender and Mercer is considered the favorite to win the Atlantic Sun conference plus the team potentially standing in the way for Mason to face other notable programs that would boost its own RPI including New Mexico and Connecticut.
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.
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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.
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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.