The surroundings were familiar, but the uniform was different for Hollis Thompson and Jason Clark. The former Georgetown stars found themselves back at Verizon Center last week to work out for the Washington Wizards, the latest step in their attempts to forge a professional career heading into next Thursday’s NBA Draft.
“It’s kind of weird coming into this arena and not having on a Georgetown jersey,” said Clark, who led the Hoyas to the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament during a senior season in which he led the team in points and steals. “I’m going to work hard to try and play here again.”
Clark and Thompson may have been stars on the collegiate stage, but at the next level, they are among a horde of prospects crisscrossing the country hoping to impress a team enough to be drafted.
“I’m just trying to show that I’m a player,” Thompson said. “I can play basketball, and this is what I want to do. I’ve done three years, I’ve played at the college level, I’ve gotten the most of what I can get from college and I’m ready to improve my game.”
The 6-foot-8 Thompson tested the NBA waters after his sophomore season but returned to school for a junior campaign in which he averaged 12.8 points and was one of the nation’s leading 3-point shooters.
That shooting ability has made Thompson a hot commodity, as his name has appeared as a second-round selection on several mock drafts. He’s worked out for a number of teams, including Indiana, Philadelphia and Toronto.
“Hollis gives you the length and the ability to shoot the ball — he’s a specialist,” CBSSports.com analyst Jeff Goodman said. “He’s a guy that comes in and you put him around three or four good players. He’s long and can really shoot the ball, and those things have the ability to keep you in the league for a long time.”
Thompson struggled through a groin injury in the second half of the Hoyas’ season and has spent a large portion of the offseason rehabbing in order to prepare for the grueling workout routine.
“It’s an advantage going through the draft process last year,” he said. “When you first step out on the court, there are a lot of people looking at you that aren’t fans, but I’m kind of used to it.”
He has compatriots in Clark and former Hoyas center Henry Sims, and the trio stays in contact. Clark, who worked out for the Wizards two days before Thompson, said the players use each other as advance scouts.
“We talk almost every day,” Clark said. “We ask how each other’s workouts are going, and we tell each other to go out and do what we’ve been doing all our years at Georgetown.”
For Clark, that was just about everything. The 6-2 guard finished his Hoyas career with 1,363 points, which rank 20th on the school’s all-time scoring ledger. His senior leadership and basketball acumen proved invaluable as he helped shepherd a young Georgetown squad to a 24-9 record.
With all that said, however, Clark figures to have a challenge finding a home on an NBA roster.
“I really like him a lot — better than both Thompson and Sims at the college level — but he’s caught in between positions at the NBA level,” Goodman said. “He’d have to play point guard in the NBA, so I think Clark will probably be an overseas guy.”
Don’t tell that to Clark, who is banking on his effort and intangibles paying dividends for a team looking to find a hungry player.
“I know my role is not going to be to come in and score,” he said. “Some guys don’t know that. I know that. My role is to come in and compete. I feel like there’s no one that can outwork me and if I bring that to the table, I can make a team.”
Clark got a ringing endorsement from former rival Scoop Jardine, as the Syracuse guard praised Clark after the pair’s workout with the Wizards last week.
“He’s a great defensive player,” Jardine said. “His senior year, he made some big shots. He’s a winning player.”
Thompson and Clark are hoping to hear their names called June 28, but if not, both said going through this process has made them better players, ready to take whatever opportunities come their way.
“This is a blessing,” Clark said. “Even if I don’t get drafted, don’t make a team, not everyone gets to do this. Teams fly you in, put you in nice hotels. You get to see their facilities, meet head coaches, GMs, scouts. I’m just living in the moment.”