It was March 23, 2007. I was sick as a dog less than 12 hours before I climbed into my mother's dark blue Jeep Liberty, but luckily the medicine I had taken prior to entering this sport utility vehicle had alleviated any and all symptoms I had. It was an exciting evening: I was going to the East Regional Semifinals at the venue now formerly known as the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It was there that two blue bloods of college basketball: Georgetown and North Carolina, were scheduled to take part in two separate matchups against Vanderbilt and USC respectively. Little did I know, I would be watching the best player for the Hoyas in that decade.
It's true that the incomparable Michael Sweetney had a remarkable career on The Hilltop. An All-American in the year 2003, and a member of the All Century Team, Sweetney compiled averages of 18.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.0 steals during his lengthy career whilst donning dark blue and gray. And it's also true that one of the men that was on the floor that night, big man Roy Hibbert, was also sensational during his tenure in Washington, D.C. Hibbert was a two-time All-Big East player, netting First Team honors in 2007, and put up a stat line of 10.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and a field goal percentage o 60.3. But it was Hibbert's teammate that night, whom stood out in The Garden State above all, that sealed the deal in becoming the greatest Hoya of the 2000s.
His name? Jeff Green.
Green, a native of Hyattsville, Maryland, arrived on the scene in 2004 when the Hoyas were still attempting to scratch back up to relevancy. The final years of the Craig Esherick era were flat out abysmal, and sputtered out the season before Green got on campus, as the Hoyas went 13-14 with an unsightly 4-12 record in Big East Conference play. With Green came the arrival of John Thompson III, and as he went, so did the Hoyas, slowly climbing their way back up the ladder.
Green averaged 13.1 points in his freshman season as a Hoya, which was good enough for 19th best in the conference. He had a field goal percentage of 50.2, which netted himself in the Top 10 in that category for the conference, as well. But Green's work was not done, and neither was the Hoyas'. The following season, Georgetown made their way back to the NCAA Tournament and Green was a humongous reason why. He became a major contributor in most, if not all facets, and helped vault Georgetown to only their 3rd NCAA Tournament appearance since 1997 at the time.
And the Hoyas made the most of it, as they strong-armed their way past Northern Iowa Panthers and Ohio State Buckeyes to the Sweet 16. This was the first time since the 2001 NCAA Tournament that they made it to the Regional Semifinal, and only the second time since 1996.
Though Georgetown ultimately lost to the eventual National Champions in the Florida Gators, they were right back in the thick of things the following season. And Green saved his best for last, averaging career highs in points per game (14.3) and field goal percentage (.513) and the Hoyas were back in the NCAA Tournament after going 23-6 in the regular season. They made even more headway by capturing the Big East regular season and conference tournament championships, the first time in 10 and 18 years respectively that those achievements were accomplished.
After cruising past Belmont Bruins and eluding Boston College Golden Eagles, the stage was set for Georgetown's matchup with Vanderbilt on March 23, 2007. I had the luxury of being there, five rows away from the court and the basket. Interestingly enough, I would also be five rows away from an historic moment in Hoya basketball history. With merely seconds left in the game, and Vanderbilt clinging to a 65-64 lead, Green weaved his way (though controversially) through traffic and nailed a bucket that likely sent Georgetown fans into "Hoya Paranoia."
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That basket brought Georgetown to the Regional Final, where they would meet up with fellow blue blood North Carolina. And what a performance Green would put on for an encore. 22 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block later, the Georgetown Hoyas were back in the Final Four for the first time in 22 years.
Green averaged 13.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, a field goal percentage of 48.6 percent, and 3.1 assists during his three years in The Nation's Capital. And there's no denying, from this writer at least, that Jeff Green is the greatest Georgetown Hoya of the 2000s.