- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2003

Georgetown basketball coach Craig Esherick scored big yesterday during the first day of the NCAA’s early signing period.

Esherick picked up big-time size to complement a solid returning backcourt, starting with 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert from Montgomery County’s Georgetown Prep. Esherick also signed Cornelio Guibunda, a 6-9 forward from Mozambique; Jeff Green, a 6-8 forward from Northwestern High School in Hyattsville; and Tyler Crawford, a 6-4 swingman from Robert E. Lee High in Staunton, Va.

These signings could give Esherick his best recruiting class in six years as the Hoyas’ coach. He isn’t ready to put this class on a pedestal just yet, but it does signify that Georgetown is going to be a major player in the newly expanded Big East two years from now.

“I hate to put that title on them and put pressure on them,” Esherick said. “We need to wait a year or two before we put that title on them, [but] it gives us a great start in the new league.”

By signing Hibbert, who averaged 15.3 points, 14 rebounds and 4.3 blocks last season, Georgetown maintained its reputation as a premier destination for big men in college basketball.

Green, who averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks last season, was the most heavily recruited of the quartet. He chose Georgetown over defending national champion Syracuse, Maryland, Clemson and George Washington.

Green, Guibunda, and Crawford all can play more than one position. Esherick said Green reminds him of former Georgetown star Billy Martin, who was a terrific inside scorer and also could knock down mid-range jumpers.

Esherick called Hibbert an “old school” center, a classic back-to-the-basket pivotman who rebounds well, blocks shots and can score in the lane.

“Roy has a nice touch to the basket,” Esherick said. “He has a jump hook and a hook shot.”

Guibunda, whose father is a member of Mozambique’s Supreme Court, is thin, according to Esherick, but runs the floor well and is a great shot blocker. Guibunda comes to Georgetown via King and Low-Heywood Thomas School, a small private institution in Stamford, Conn. Guibunda chose Georgetown over Virginia, Vanderbilt, Boston College, and Villanova.

“What surprised me is how well he can shoot,” Esherick said of Guibunda, who averaged 25 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks last season.

Crawford is a scorer and excellent rebounder. Touted as a 3-point shooter, he averaged a startling 12.4 rebounds last season from a wing position.

All four should be able to contribute right away for Georgetown. It also is important that Esherick was able to successfully recruit in his backyard and sign players from the talent-rich Washington area.

“It’s important to get guys locally, and we’re going to keep doing it,” Esherick said. “We’re pretty pleased with what we were able to do.”

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