NCAA

Smith-Rivera back to help Hoyas turn the corner

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Smith-Rivera back to help Hoyas turn the corner

Georgetown's season-ending men's basketball banquet takes place Thursday night. The annual event serves as a celebration and  a chance for departing players to say goodbye to those associated with the program.

For eight days, it seemed D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera would be making a farewell speech on Thursday. In the end, the playmaking guard realized work on the Hilltop remained.

The Hoyas' leading scorer spoke with local reporters on Thursday for the first time since reversing course on his decision to enter the NBA Draft. Smith-Rivera will play his senior season with Georgetown.

"I’ve been here three years. We still haven’t turned that corner," Smith-Rivera said. "I feel like this year we had a great team, but next year we’ll have an even better team with the guys coming in and a lot of the guys that we have now."

As far as the pro ranks, Smith-Rivera hopes another year of school will also help make him a better prospect.

The program announced Smith-Rivera's plans to enter the NBA Draft on March 31. The news caught many off-guard. Though selected all-Big East after averaging 16.3 points as a junior, the Indianapolis native is not considered a first-round selection. DraftExpress.com, one of the leading NBA Draft evaluation sites, does not list the 6-foot-2 guard among their top 100 prospects.

"It’s a dream," Smith-Rivera said of playing in the NBA. "I didn’t really think about it too much until the season was actually over."

After primarily consulting with Georgetown head coach John Thompson III and assessing his own game, Smith-Rivera thought he was ready. "I was just comfortable with my game at the time. I felt like I had all the attributes to further push my career.

Reports surfaced eight days later that Smith-Rivera changed his mind. With their leading man back, Georgetown should land comfortably among the top 20 teams in preseason polls. Smith-Rivera is one of three returning starters, including forward Isaac Copeland and wing L.J. Peak, both rising sophomores. 

"I know we have a really good team next year. The structure of our team, we have a lot of core guys coming back. Even though we lost a lot of seniors, I think we’re going to be really good. Also, I wanted to finish school. I talked to my parents. They wanted me to have something to fall back on," he continued.

Smith-Rivera also averaged 4.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.6 steals while shooting 86 percent from the free throw line and 39 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

Georgetown finished 22-11 this past season and tied for second in the Big East at 12-6. The Hoyas defeated Eastern Washington in NCAA Tournament before losing to Utah in the round of 32.

Tre Campbell and Smith-Rivera likely form the starting backcourt next season. Along with Copeland, Peak, forward Paul White plus three current members of the 2015 class, this roster is arguably the most athletic under coach John Thompson III. Center Jessie Govan, forward Marcus Derrickson and forward Kaleb Johnson are all four-star recruits.

Smith-Rivera will now have a chance to play against Maryland for the first time in his career. The Hoyas and Terps recently announced a home-and-home series starting this November. The matchup pits Smith-Rivera against Maryland's Melo Trimble, who was one of the top point guards in the country last season.

"Biggest game of the season for sure," he said of facing the Terps as a big smile dominated his face.

His NCAA Tournament experience has largely ended with a frown. This year's win was the first for Smith-Rivera in his three seasons. He has yet to play in a Sweet 16 game, let alone a Final Four.

"Just getting out of the corner," he said, repeating a primary team goal. "See if I can get it done."

MORE HOYAS: Virginia makes cut for heralded 2016 recruit

Wilmer Difo homers but Phillies top Nats

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Wilmer Difo homers but Phillies top Nats

WASHINGTON -- Rhys Hoskins hit a two-run homer, Vince Velasquez pitched five effective innings and the Philadelphia Phillies snapped Washington's six-game win streak with a 3-1 victory over the Nationals on Saturday.

Velasquez (2-4) allowed one run and one hit in his first win since April 7. He also struck out four, walked four and hit a batter.

Edubray Ramos, Tommy Hunter, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris then combined for four innings of one-hit relief. Neris earned his sixth save.

Trea Turner led off the Washington ninth with a walk and was running when Matt Wieters popped out to short right field. Turner, who slid into second, lost track of the ball and was easily doubled off first.

Wilmer Difo homered for Washington. Third baseman Anthony Rendon went 0 for 2 with two walks after missing 19 games with what the team called a contusion to his toe.

Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark (2-3) tied his season high with nine strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. He was charged with three runs and six hits.

Andrew Stevenson accounted for Washington's other hit, a one-out single in the sixth. Pedro Severino followed with a walk, but Ramos induced a double-play grounder from Rafael Bautista.

Cesar Hernandez opened the game with a single off Roark and Hoskins homered to center on a 3-2 pitch. It was his fifth of the season.

Maikel Franco provided an insurance run when he followed Carlos Santana's one-out triple with a single in the sixth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Phillies: RHP Ben Lively (lower back strain) threw 20 pitches in a bullpen session. Lively was placed on the disabled list April 27. ... Manager Gabe Kapler said RHP Pat Neshek (shoulder strain) will throw a bullpen session as the next step in his rehabilitation. Neshek has not appeared in a game this season.

Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman was scratched from the lineup due to stiffness in his side, according to manager Dave Martinez. ... RHP Trevor Gott, who sprained an ankle in the sixth inning Friday night, is day to day.

UP NEXT

The winners of the last three NL Cy Young Awards square off when Philadelphia's Jake Arrieta (3-1, 3.49 ERA) opposes Max Scherzer (6-1, 1.79 ERA). Arrieta won the award in 2015 with the Cubs and Scherzer, the National League Pitcher of the Month for April, has claimed the honor each of the last two seasons.

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

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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.

MORE NCAA: TOP BUZZER BEATERS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY

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.