- The Washington Times - Monday, November 30, 2020

In the early stages of last season, Jahvon Blair didn’t see the floor as much as he may have liked. The Georgetown guard started one game before February, biding his team on a crowded roster that would soon thin out.

The Hoyas lost four players in December 2019 to transfers — as well as star guard Mac McClung this offseason — but coach Patrick Ewing didn’t need to worry about Blair searching out a similar exit.

“His mom told me, ‘He’s not going anywhere. He’s staying right here,’” Ewing said.

After all the turnover Ewing’s teams have experienced since the coach returned to the program in 2017, that level of reassurance from Blair’s mom was pivotal.

On a team with eight newcomers, Blair and forward Jamorko Pickett are keystones. And Blair displayed that during Georgetown’s season-opening win against UMBC, playing a team-high 38 minutes. He piled on 23 points and added a career-high eight rebounds to accompany his four assists and two steals.

In short, it was the kind of performance Ewing will hope for throughout the season, which continues Tuesday with a matchup against Navy. As Blair goes, so do the Hoyas.

“We’re going to need both [Blair] and Jamorko to play big,” Ewing said. “They need to step up. They’ve been here for four years, so they know everything that I expect out of them.”

Georgetown’s top scorers from the year before departed. McClung and his 15.7 points per game are now with Texas Tech, while Omer Yurtseven opted to head to the NBA. At least through one game, Blair was the main scorer attempting to fill the void, although three other players finished in double-figures.

On the floor last week against UMBC, the 6-foot-4 Ontario native converted nine of his 22 shot attempts, yet he only sank two of his eight tries from beyond the arc.

Still, Blair showed his inside-out scoring ability, driving off a ball screen toward the paint and finishing through contact for an and-1 early. He raced off the right wing into the heart of the Retrievers’ defense later in the first half, knocking down a floater. Blair finished in transition twice in a one-minute span midway through the second half.

“I talked to Coach Pat, the coaches, and they told me what I have to do, and what we have to do as a team, to be successful,” Blair said. “I know my part, but everyone else just gotta dial it in and we’re just going to grind it out, game-by-game, day-by-day.”

Blair’s contributions skyrocketed in February and March of last season, with Ewing’s squad heavily depleted following a bevy of departures. Over the final 11 games, he averaged 39 minutes and more than 16 points.

That spurt proved Blair could be a main contributor on the team following a sophomore season in which he underperformed, averaging 4.1 points per game compared to the nine points he averaged as a freshman.

Pickett followed a similar trajectory, regressing in his second season before starting all 32 contests as a junior. He opened his senior season with a 10-point, eight-rebound performance in 35 minutes against UMBC.

“They had a very good freshman year, they took a step back as a sophomore,” Ewing said. “They kept fighting as juniors, and now we need for them to kick the door in and be great as seniors.”

The sample size is small; Georgetown has only played one game. But what Blair did in that game — scoring 23 points while adding eight boards — displayed what the Hoyas will look for all season from the guard.

“We need him to have some big games for us this year,” Ewing said. “But he still has to play smart, take good shots, be good on the defensive end, and he should have a great year for us.”

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