Georgetown juniors Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert met with the media yesterday for the first time since submitting their names for early entry into the NBA Draft on Friday. Just hours before they were honored at halftime of the Wizards’ final home game of the season, the frontcourt duo who propelled the Hoyas to their first Final Four run in 22 years discussed the decision at hand.
“For right now, I’m still a Hoya. I’m still working. I’m still going through my offseason workouts as if I’m coming back,” said Hibbert, the 7-foot-2 center who averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks during Georgetown’s NCAA tournament march to Atlanta. “I’d say it’s 50-50 right now. You might see me in blue and gray next year.”
Green placed his return to the Hilltop as a 70 percent likelihood, completely bucking conventional wisdom and all chatter emanating from the Green camp over the last month.
The 6-9 forward from Hyattsville led the Hoyas (30-7) in scoring (14.3 points), was second on the team in rebounding (6.4) and assists (3.2) and would seem to have far less to gain by returning for his senior season. Though both players are slotted between No. 6 and No. 20 by every NBA Draft projection, Green already has loaded up on collegiate hardware and boasts a considerably more polished game.
“Jeff is in a different position then myself,” Hibbert said on the subject. “I’ve said before that Jeff was Big East player of the year. He was the MVP in East Rutherford [NCAA East Region] and an All-American [third team]. Obviously, I’m not there yet. I haven’t gotten those awards. So maybe I might come back and try to get those awards.”
With so many individual laurels already adorning his mantle, Green’s primary incentives to return would be a potential return trip to the Final Four and one more year of the college experience.
“I’m different. I’m not like people who could just give up school lightly,” Green said. “College is only going to be here four years. The NBA will be there forever. So that’s a big factor in whether or not I do give up this last year. Either way, I’m still going to graduate from here. If I do leave, I’ll come back and get my degree.”
The Green who spoke yesterday certainly seemed more conflicted about the decision than the player who has been casually discussing with classmates the make, model and color combination of the automobile he plans to purchase (expect a white Land Rover).
Unless he receives strong negative feedback after individual workouts for NBA teams over the next six weeks, most insiders feel Green will remain in the draft. Hibbert, on the other hand, could benefit greatly from one more season at Georgetown. Not only could he potentially maintain his meteoric progress from raw recruit to polished pivot under coach John Thompson III, he could move well up a draft board that next year won’t feature nearly the glut of talented post players (Greg Oden, Al Horford, Yi Jianlian, Joakim Noah, Spencer Hawes, Chris Daniels and Hasheem Thabeet).
“That does play a factor in my decision,” Hibbert admitted. “Do I want to go between [Nos.] 8 and 14, as I’ve heard, or do I want to go possibly top three next year? … I wouldn’t want to be on the end of a bench in the NBA, not being able to develop and show what I could do. So another year here would be great, obviously. I’m just going to see whether coach thinks I’m ready. Obviously, I’d love to come back and get a banner in here — a national championship banner. We were close this year, but next year could be great.”
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