When Patrick Ewing took the reigns of the Georgetown men’s basketball program, few doubted his tactical pedigree. A Hall of Fame playing career followed by over a decade as an assistant coach in the NBA spoke for itself. But many wondered how Ewing, who had spent nearly 30 years in the professional ranks, would adjust to the college game and the demands of running a program. This criticism often centered on the laborious recruiting process, which was nonexistent at the NBA level and an area where the Hoyas had struggled since 2014, struggling to retain players for more than three years. Indeed, 7-of-12 recruits since then have transferred, left early, or been dismissed from the team.
But after a full year at helm of his alma mater, the Georgetown Hoyas head coach has compiled the Big East’s third-highest rated incoming class, featuring two guards and two big men, to add depth to a Hoyas team that will look to capitalize on the conference’s changing power dynamics.
So who are the new guys on the Hilltop? Let’s take a look.
From: Oakland, California
Played At: Salesian
Position: Point Guard
Height/Weight: 6-foot/180 lbs.
Star Rating: 4-star
Rankings: 90th Nationally/13th Position/8th State
Akinjo initially committed to UConn on Sept. 8, 2017 and signed a letter of intent to join the Huskies two months later. But he decommitted on the same day that Kevin Ollie was fired, and Ewing wasted no time in pursuing Akinjo, visiting him the next week. Less than a month later, Akinjo committed to Georgetown.
In Akinjo, the Hoyas gain a crucial piece that they have been missing for quite some time: a true point guard. His biggest strength lies in his abilities as a floor general. He can dictate tempo, pass well and create his own shot when needed. He averaged 22 points on 47 percent shooting, 3 rebounds, seven assists and one steal per game in the Kenner League this summer. He demonstrated exceptional one-on-one ability and an uncanny knack for hitting free-throw line pull up jumpers.
But, like many young guards, Akinjo struggled with turnovers during the summer, committing four per game. He dominates possession of the ball and can, at times, make a risky pass. But it’s difficult to read into Kenner League turnovers, as his supporting cast during the upcoming season will be completely different, and he will be running Ewing’s NBA-style pick-and-roll offense with Jessie Govan. Nonetheless, turnovers were a major issue for the Blue & Gray last season (15.3 per game). Akinjo’s overall impact will stem from his ability to curb the team’s recent spike in turnovers.
Hoya fans have been waiting for a foundational point guard and were made to wait after Tremont Waters’ decommitment last season. Akinjo certainly has the ability to make the wait worthwhile and looks primed to play the most minutes of any newcomers this season.
Oh, yeah. He’s also friends with Damian Lillard. Neat!
From: Dallas, TX
Played At: Denton Guyer
Height/Weight: 6-foot-8/220 lbs.
Rankings: 235th Nationally/40th Position/16th State
Carter was the first commitment of the Ewing era, committing in Sept. 2017. Hailing from Dallas, Carter possesses an intriguing mix of skills. He can stretch the floor with a sound jump shot, post up down low with good positional awareness, and run the floor well with his athletic frame. This versatility is reason for optimism.
But it’s unlikely that Carter will contribute to the Hoyas immediately. He’ll probably need to add some weight to vie for position down low at the collegiate level, and there are several contributors ahead of him on the roster that muddle paths to consistent playing time. That said, Antwan Walker’s dismissal from the team earlier this month could open the door for Carter. Ewing frequently rode the hot hand when assigning minutes last season, so if Carter is able to make the most of his minutes early on, he could develop into a solid contributor.
From: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Played At: Madison Prep Academy
Height/Weight: 6-foot-7/230 lbs.
Rankings: 98th Nationally/24th Positional/3rd State
Josh LeBlanc is an enforcer. A four-time state champion at Madison Prep, LeBlanc brings an impressive defensive pedigree to the Hoyas. He elevates quickly, positions himself well, and hustles for every loose ball. His ability on the defensive boards also facilitates the faster style of play Ewing is implementing at Georgetown.
Offensively, however, LeBlanc struggles to create his own shot. He does well in transition, where he can fill lanes and follow misses for easy buckets. But this is a weakness LeBlanc seems to be aware of, as he played within his own offensive capabilities during Kenner League, rarely forcing shots outside of his comfort zone. He’ll have time to develop his offensive game under Ewing, but you can’t teach his defensive awareness and athletic ability. His role entering the season is unknown, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he saw consistent minutes, especially if the rest of the Big East goes smaller, because of his ability to defend and run the floor.
From: Gate City, Virginia
Played At: Gate City
Position: Combo Guard
Height/Weight: 6-foot-2/185 lbs.
Rankings: 245th Nationally/23rd Position/11th State
You probably know Mac McClung as the guy who dunks... A LOT. McClung has broken the internet on multiple occasions with his thunderous dunking ability. Or you might know him as one of the few high school players lucky enough to catch the interest of Drake. No matter how you cut it, he is one of the most fascinating high school recruits in recent memory.
But all of the dunks, Instagram likes and YouTube plays probably overshadow McClung’s true value. He is a scorer through and through. In his senior year, he broke Allen Iverson’s all-time single season scoring record with 1,153 points, ending his career as the all-time leading scorer in VHSL history (2,801).
This summer, he joined Akinjo in the Kenner League and continued his scoring outbursts. His quickness and leaping ability allow him to create shots on the perimeter or attack the rim, and he has demonstrated an ability to knock down tough shots and make mid-air adjustments to get shots off. Though listed as a combo guard, he’ll likely play shooting guard in his freshman campaign, as Akinjo and Jagan Mosely better suit the floor general position. He’ll have to fight for minutes with Jahvon Blair and Greg Malinowski, but should see the floor regularly as a substitute.
McClung also plays with a large chip on his shoulder, and his competitiveness is evident on every play. He is up for any challenge and has played well in big moments (47 points in the 2018 Virginia 2A State Championship). Ewing has said he wants to get back to the days when Georgetown was feared by everyone, and McClung’s fiery demeanor on the court might help restore that atmosphere.