- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 14, 2007

Georgetown juniors Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert have submitted their names for early entry into the NBA Draft, radically altering the frontcourt face of the program’s immediate future.

“Both young men have worked extremely hard to position themselves for this opportunity,” coach John Thompson III said in a statement released yesterday by the university. “They have begun a process of information gathering which is necessary for them to make educated decisions.”

Neither Green nor Hibbert has hired an agent, leaving the door open for either to pull his name from consideration by the early withdrawal date (June 18) and return to school. But multiple sources have confirmed Green is no longer regularly attending classes, a sure indication his career on the Hilltop has come to an end. And yesterday’s mock draft at NBAdraft.net listed both players as lottery picks: Green going with the seventh pick and Hibbert going eighth. Few players have received that kind of positive feedback from the experts and pulled out of the process.

In Green’s case, the announcement comes as no surprise. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward from Hyattsville led the Hoyas (30-7) in scoring last season (14.3 points) and was second in both rebounding (6.4) and assists (3.2).

During Georgetown’s late-season roll to its first Big East title since 1989 and first Final Four appearance since 1985, Green was sublime, collecting the league’s player of the year award and then gathering laurels as MVP of both the Big East tournament and the NCAA tournament’s East Region.

Routinely praised by Thompson for his extraordinary basketball IQ, Green was a standout starter from the moment he set foot on campus. Always a superb passer and strong post player, Green added a reliable 3-point jumper and improved ball-handling to his arsenal this season, developing into one of the most versatile offensive threats in the nation.

Even before Georgetown began its run to the Final Four, Green was leaning toward heading to the NBA. After a march to Atlanta that included a clutch, last-second shot to drop Vanderbilt and a gem against North Carolina in the East Region finals (22 points, nine rebounds), it would have been stunning had Green decided to return for his senior season.

Hibbert, on the other hand, always had professed to be a four-year player who wanted a slot beside Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning in the Georgetown pivot pantheon. But all that might have changed during Georgetown’s drive to the Final Four.

The 7-2, 280-pound center was a solid frontcourt force for the Hoyas all season, leading the team in rebounding (6.9) and finishing second to Green in scoring (12.9 points) en route to first team All-Big East honors.

But in the postseason, Hibbert showed spurts of dominance, averaging 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in the Hoyas’ last five games. Most impressively, Hibbert more than held his own against likely No. 1 pick Greg Oden in the national semifinal, scoring 19 points against the Ohio State 7-footer while altering a handful of his shots.

“Hibbert’s stock isn’t likely to get any higher,” one NBA scout said of the Georgetown big man. “I’m not sure he’s as good as he looked at times against Oden. I still worry about [Hibbert’s] athleticism in this league. When you outshine Oden in the Final Four, what do you do for an encore?”

Georgetown fans were hoping the answer was return to lead the Hoyas to a national title. And there’s still an outside chance Hibbert could come back to the Hilltop for his senior season, joining a cast of three other returning starters (junior Jonathan Wallace, sophomore Jessie Sapp and freshman DaJuan Summers), the team’s top four reserves (juniors Patrick Ewing Jr. and Tyler Crawford and freshmen Jeremiah Rivers and Vernon Macklin) and a pair of incoming McDonald’s All-American guards in Austin Freeman (DeMatha) and Chris Wright (St. John’s).

But if both Hibbert and Green leave for the NBA, Georgetown drops from Final Four favorite to frontcourt-strapped. Both Summers and Ewing are reliable 6-8 forwards, but if Green and Hibbert leave, the evolution of the 6-10 Macklin becomes the key to Georgetown’s 2007-08 success.

Given the sudden defections, it would not be a surprise if Thompson makes a late charge at top-10 prep center Anthony McClain. A lifelong Georgetown fan, the 6-11, 220-pound standout at National Christian Academy (Fort Washington) was a virtual Georgetown lock before the team’s frontcourt glut prompted him to switch his recruiting focus to Connecticut and Cincinnati. If McClain gets his academics in order, Georgetown would be a natural fit for the national top-50 recruit and one of the few blue-chip big men still unsigned.

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