Wizards

How Greg Monroe landed with the Capital City Go-Go

Wizards

WASHINGTON -- Greg Monroe remembers the computer. It was during a two-day period where he and his family were hosting the top college coaches in the country at their house in Lousiana. Monroe was one of the most-coveted recruits in his class and a who's who of coaching legends were walking into his living room, guys like Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Bill Self of Kansas.

The one who made the winning pitch, then-Georgetown coach John Thompson III, closed the deal with a laptop presentation. He had recently led the Hoyas to the Final Four in 2007 with star forward Jeff Green. There were parallels between the two players and Thompson III helped paint the picture with film of Green operating Georgetown's offense.

"He was just showing me a lot of clips of Jeff and everything, just asking me if I thought I could do it," Monroe told NBC Sports Washington. "When I watched it, I was like I could do all of that. Everything he showed me on there, I could do in my sleep. If I came to Georgetown, I would be very comfortable running the offense."

Both Monroe and Thompson III remember an instant comfort level between them. For Monroe, he appreciated the coach's laid-back style and laser focus on basketball.

"I remember that home visit vividly as much as any experience on the court," Thompson III told NBC Sports Washington.

Combine the on-court fit with Georgetown's world-renowned education and Monroe was intrigued. Once he made a visit to the Hilltop, he was convinced it was the best place for him.

 

"When I got here, that's when I fell in love with the city, I fell in love with Georgetown, the campus. After just taking everything in, definitely it was a choice I will never regret in my life," he said.

Eleven years after Monroe left Georgetown for the NBA, those two have now been reunited unexpectedly in the Wizards organization. Thompson III is the vice president of player programs at Monumental Basketball and Monroe recently signed with the Capital City Go-Go, their G-League affiliate. But although they are working in the same building once again, Thompson III did not handle the recruitment this time.

Monroe is a 9-year NBA veteran whose last appearance in the league was Game 7 between the Sixers and Raptors in 2019, the second-round series that ended on Kawhi Leonard's series-clinching shot that bounced up and in. He was on Philly. Afterward, he played for two teams in the EuroLeague - Bayern Munich and Khimki Moscow - and is now trying to get back into the NBA.

He returned to the United States and had his agent, Joel Bell, reach out to a long list of G-League teams. The Go-Go just happened to show interest. Having Thompson III there helped, of course, and so did the fact they are located in D.C., where Monroe played his two years of college ball.

"I've always felt like I could still play in the NBA and that I belong in the NBA... I just decided that this is the best route to try to get back," Monroe said.

Monroe, 31, is now running the floor with Wizards prospects Cassius Winston, Joel Ayayi and Isaiah Todd. He has more NBA experience than the rest of the team's roster combined and Thompson III believes his leadership can be a developmental tool for the organization. 

Thompson III raves about Monroe as a player and person, calling him "extremely smart" and one of the best passers he's ever coached, despite being a 6-foot-11 big man and not a point guard. His command of the playbook and where everyone should be on the floor, he believes, is second to none.

Outside of the actual games, Monroe has over a decade of professional basketball experience to share with other players on the Go-Go in practices and other settings.

"I think about [2021 second-round pick] Isaiah Todd, a young guy that is coming into his own, who's feeling his way through, who's learning and growing up," Thompson III said. "Just to have someone like Greg around to lean on, that he can pull aside and ask questions that he may or may not ask a coach or someone in the administration."

Monroe's primary focus is on helping the Go-Go win in the short term and getting a call-up to the next level at some point. In about a month, on Jan. 5, the window will open for NBA teams to sign 10-day contracts. He could be a good candidate, whether it's for the Wizards or another team.

 

But as he trains and plays with the Go-Go, he looks forward to helping the young players around him, just as veterans did when he first got in the NBA as a first-round pick back in 2010.

"That's something that I've always believed in, helping out the younger generation and people coming in after you," Monroe said. "The game is meant to be passed on. Someone's always watching the people before them."

Monroe also plans on spending some time on Georgetown's campus connecting with the current roster. He hopes to attend one of their games sometime soon when the Go-Go schedule allows for it.

As part of Monumental Basketball, Thompson III is always thinking about basketball as a whole in the region. He hopes Monroe's stay with the Go-Go can help strengthen their place in the community, as a former college star is back in the same city he starred in a decade ago.

In the meantime, if he wants to reminisce about his college days, Monroe knows who to talk to at the Wizards' practice facility in Southeast.

"I see [Thompson III] all the time, but he's working, too. They have a super busy schedule. Obviously, we talk whenever he's around. It's good to see him, it's always good to see him," Monroe said.