- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 27, 2007

Georgetown’s Jonathan Wallace has finally buried the “but.”

The moment the 6-foot-1, 188-pound point guard set foot on Georgetown’s campus, Hoya fans saddled him with an asterisk, creating a patronizing qualifier that has dogged him since the first dribble of his career.

As a freshman, Wallace was the heady Princeton recruit who followed John Thompson III to Georgetown. But he was just a walk-on, a backcourt band-aid until the cavalry arrived in the form of Thompson’s first class of perimeter recruits (Jessie Sapp and Josh Thornton).

Last year as a sophomore, Wallace had earned his scholarship by shocking everyone with his unorthodox but effective shot and outstanding hoops IQ. But he was athletically limited — too short, too slow and a defensive liability.

Wallace, now a junior, entered this season as the undisputed starter at point guard — a player who, as a sophomore, not only led the team in 3-point shooting, but also added a well-timed slash to the basket to his repertoire. But Wallace was only keeping the position warm for coveted recruit Chris Wright, the St. John’s Prep star certain to supplant the steady senior next season.

Still, Wallace now has started all 84 games the Hoyas have played since he stepped on campus. And he’s no longer just a pleasant surprise or a savvy overachiever with significant limitations. He’s a real game-changer on a team and in a league where few outside the program genuinely believed he belonged.

The farmboy from Harvest, Ala., is on pace to decimate Kevin Braswell’s school record for career 3-pointers (189). Wallace has 133 career 3-pointers.

With 235 assists in his career, he’s more than likely to finish in the program’s top 10 in that category. Statistically speaking, Wallace also appears on pace to exit Georgetown as the most accurate shooter in Hoya history.

“That Wallace is something else. Forget the form. That guy can shoot,” former Utah coach and ESPN analyst Rick Majerus said of Georgetown’s co-captain during halftime of the Hoyas’ 66-52 victory over DePaul on Wednesday. “Not only is he a gritty guy, a real heartbeat guy, he’s a 180-Man. Do you know how rare that is? He’s got to be one of the most underrated players in this league.”

Majerus’ definition of a “180-Man” is a player whose combined field goal, 3-point and free throw percentage numbers add up to 180 or more. Wallace enters today’s game against Cincinnati (10-9, 1-4 Big East) shooting 51.0 percent from the field, 48.1 percent from 3-point range and 90.3 percent from the free throw line — an overall sum of 189.4.

That’s the highest such total in the Big East and the sixth-highest in the nation, making Wallace one of the college game’s most accomplished shooters.

“I’ve never heard of that stat,” Wallace said. “It’s kind of cool, but a stat is nothing next to a win.”

That classic team-first mentality is exactly why Wallace has never been overly bothered by the incessant talk about his limitations.

“Sure, I hear that stuff from time to time, but I never took any of that stuff to heart,” Wallace said. “It is nice to hear that somebody like Coach Majerus paid me a compliment. It does make you chuckle a little bit, sure. But I wouldn’t call it vindication, because my goal is to help us win games, not make my personal mark.”

Wallace has done a good deal of both recently. In Georgetown’s 74-58 rout at Seton Hall last week, Wallace made seven of 11 shots (including three of five 3-pointers), scoring a career-high 21 points. And though his 11 points against DePaul in Georgetown’s last outing might seem somewhat benign, Wallace hit a pair of 3s in the final minute of the first half to single-handedly erase a 30-24 DePaul lead.

Anybody who questions Wallace’s production (11.3 points, 3.1 assists) instead of lauding his efficiency should be reminded that the Hoyas won their only national title with a similarly restrained player at the point (Michael Jackson — 10.2 points).

Perhaps the only grief Wallace should be subjected to over the remainder of his career should come from his teammates, who aren’t quite ready to give up needling Wallace for the accentuated arc on his jumper — a shot former teammate Brandon Bowman dubbed the “Alabama Rainmaker.”

And Majerus, a rare gem among the game’s inane talking heads, should be commended for recognizing in 20 minutes, the talent and efficiency that the Georgetown faithful needed almost three full seasons to come to appreciate.

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