2021-22 Georgetown Season Preview
The season is almost upon us. Read up on the 2021-22 Georgetown Hoyas and what you can expect to see from them this season!
By the time Georgetown takes the court on Saturday afternoon to take on Dartmouth, it will have been 238 days since the Hoyas suffered a crushing 96-73 loss to Colorado in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
While the end to the plucky Hoyas’ season left a bitter taste in Georgetown fans’ mouths, how the team got to that point— winning the Big East Tournament— was an unexpectedly bright spot in what was originally expected to be a rebuilding season for the Blue & Gray in Patrick Ewing’s fourth year.
That the postseason triumph in the Big East Tournament occurred in the House That Patrick Built, Madison Square Garden, made it all the more sweeter for Georgetown. It was a rewarding ending for a team that found its defensive identity after a multi-week COVID pause, and was the first real sign that Ewing is beginning to turn this thing around.
Now, however, after an offseason that saw the Hoyas lose their starting center to Maryland, and then had their presumed starting center for this year kicked off the team, Georgetown finds itself back in an almost identical position as last year, being picked to finish 10th in the Big East. Last fall, they were picked to finish dead last in the Big East Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
So was last season a sign of real progress for Patrick Ewing at Georgetown? Or was it an outlier for a coach with a 62-59 career record and a 26-44 conference record? This year will go a long way in answering that question.
At the minimum, this year’s Georgetown team should be fun to watch. They have an exciting mix of young, athletic players who should enable Georgetown to play fast and free on both ends of the court. But there are higher stakes than many want to acknowledge this season, and that’s why the 2021-22 season should be a fascinating one to watch, for reasons both good and bad.
For Patrick Ewing, this is a pivotal fifth year in his head coaching tenure at Georgetown. While Ewing now has a Big East title to proudly show off, there are still some things missing from Georgetown that need addressing if any sort of sustained success is to be reached under Ewing. It all starts with roster turnover.
No matter what happens this season, the real key for Georgetown and Ewing will be keeping the core of the roster together heading into next year. Roster continuity has been something that has evaded Ewing every single season that he has been at Georgetown.
He’s shown that he can coach at this level. He’s shown that he can recruit. But Ewing has had trouble doing is keeping core players on his roster. Whether it’s his fault or the players’ fault for that happening, the fact of the matter is roster turnover has been a major issue for Georgetown under Ewing. Something needs to change this year.
After losing Mac McClung, James Akinjo, Josh LeBlanc, Myron Gardner, and Galen Alexander two seasons ago, Ewing saw his starting center, Qudus Wahab, depart for Maryland this offseason, and also saw former four-star recruit Jamari Sibley and promising sharpshooter T.J. Berger transfer out of the program too.
Ewing has seen the top recruit of each of his last three recruiting classes transfer out of the program. That’s really bad!
In Wahab’s case, the transfer decision this summer was a shocker. Wahab was a major part of Georgetown and was prominently featured on both offense and defense. That he chose to head to Georgetown’s DMV rival in College Park, especially after a season in which Georgetown won the Big East Tournament, is particularly concerning.
No matter what the wins and losses are at the end of the season, none of it will matter if the young foundation that Georgetown has once again begun the process of building doesn’t stick around. That means fending off any blue blood interest for Dante Harris that may emerge this year, working to keep Aminu Mohammed around for a second year before he jumps to the NBA, and keeping high-ceiling players like Jordan Riley and Kobe Clark around to continue developing them into their upperclassmen years.
Like last season, this year could go a lot of different ways for Georgetown. That’s what you get when you have a young team with untapped talent at several positions. How fast the coaching staff can turn that talent into production on the court to help out Dante Harris and Don Carey, who will be expected to shoulder a heavy burden for the team, will determine how this season goes for Georgetown.
Let’s dive into this year’s team to see what Georgetown fans can expect to see.
Last Season’s Record
Big East: 7-9
Home Record: 7-6
Away Record: 2-6
Neutral Record: 4-1
PG Dante Harris
SG Don Carey
SF Aminu Mohammed
PF Kaiden Rice
C Timothy Ighoefe
Collin Holloway, Jalin Billingsley, Tyler Beard, Ryan Mutombo, Kobe Clark
Best Case Scenario
Tre King who? Timothy Ighoefe, with his first full offseason under his belt, excels as the team’s starting center, cutting down on his fouling, providing a fierce shot-blocking presence in the paint, and even showcasing some new post moves down low on offense. Ighoefe’s emergence is the reason why Georgetown boasts one of the top defenses in the Big East this season.
Offensively, Dante Harris improves his shooting numbers and develops into the floor general that he showed signs of becoming late last season. By the end of the season, Harris emerges as the real emotional bellwether of the team, providing strong leadership alongside team captain Don Carey, who carries over his shooting from last season into a larger role this year.
The freshmen class comes in and exceeds its lofty expectations, with Aminu Mohammed winning Big East Freshmen of the Year, and Jalin Billingsley joining Mohammed on the Big East All-Freshman Team after taking over as the starting power forward midway through the year and providing shooting and rebounding at the position. This allows Kaiden Rice to slide to the bench, where he excels in a sixth man role, providing elite three-point shooting for the team’s second unit and keeping things spaced offensively for Harris, Mohammed, and Jordan Riley.
After a strong finish to the season as they push for an NCAA Tournament bid, the Hoyas grab the sixth seed in the Big East Tournament.
Worst Case Scenario
The rough preseason scrimmage results turn out to be accurate indicators of this team’s talent level, as the young Hoyas struggle out of the gate, dropping the season opener to a Dartmouth team that lost by 16 points to Boston College earlier in the week.
Timothy Ighoefe continues to struggle with fouling, as the Hoyas can’t find a solution at the center position. While Kaiden Rice provides strong shooting on the perimeter, his defensive issues carry over from the Citadel, and the Hoyas frontcourt is exposed defensively early on, forcing Patrick Ewing to turn to freshman forward Jalin Billingsley and freshman center Ryan Mutombo in search of a solution.
Offensively, the duo of Dante Harris and Don Carey struggles to take on a bigger scoring burden, with Harris’ shooting numbers continuing to be subpar and Carey looking out of place being anything other than a catch-and-shoot option on the perimeter. A lack of spacing around Aminu Mohammed leads to prolonged growing pains for the talented freshman, who can’t seem to find a rhythm at any point in the season.
Frustration grows as the Georgetown defense reverts back to the same porous unit that it was pre-COVID pause last season. With a middling, inefficient offense, the losses pile up for Georgetown, who limp to a 9th place finish in the Big East. The national media begins to discuss Patrick Ewing’s job status after another sub-.500 conference record for Ewing and the Hoyas.
Don Carey, Sr., Guard
6’5”, 187 lbs.
Last Season: 26.8 minutes, 8.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists per game (46.7% FG / 44.9% 3FG / 87.5% FT)
Carey had a strong debut season with Georgetown last season, but now will be called upon to do a whole lot more on offense this year. Whether he can keep up his strong shooting while carrying a heavier offensive burden will be something to monitor early in the season.
Carey’s usage rate of 14.9% last season was the third-lowest on the team. He was also 10th on the team in field goal attempts per 40 minutes (8.6). The numbers paint a picture of a player who wasn’t asked to do too much and excelled in his role as three-point specialist.
We know that Carey can shoot the 3, and shoot it well. 59.3% of his field goal attempts last season were three-pointers. His effective field goal percentage of 59.3% was second on the team behind T.J. Berger, and he had the team’s second highest offensive rating.
But can he do more this season? Can he create for others? Will he spell Dante at point guard in some lineups when Dante is off the floor? It will be interesting to see how his role changes this year.
Kaiden Rice, Grad., Wing
6’7”, 215 lbs.
Last Season (Citadel): 33.8 minutes, 17.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists per game (41.4% FG / 34.8% 3FG / 88.7% FT)
Barring a surprise (Jalin Billingsley), Kaiden Rice is expected to get first crack as Georgetown’s starting 4 this season. Whether the 6’7”, 215-lb. Rice can handle defending bigger players at that position is a major question mark.
Rice is more of a big guard than a forward, and his defensive numbers are concerning. He was second-to-last on Citadel last year in defensive rating (110.7) and his Defensive Box Plus/Minus (box score estimate of the defensive points per 100 possessions a player contributed over a league average player) was 12th on his Citadel team.
Playing him in the frontcourt could be an issue once conference play begins and he has to guard bigger forwards like Jermaine Samuels, Zach Freemantle, and Alexis Yetna. It’s hard to see his defensive numbers *improving* going from the Southern Conference to the Big East.
On a positive note, Rice’s three-point shooting will be a major asset on offense for the Hoyas, and is likely why the team will just hope to stay afloat with Rice on the defensive end. Rice shot 41.4% from three last year and had a three-point attempt rate of 72.3%, which is eye-popping.
The same question exists for Rice as it does Don Carey: Can he provide anything else besides three-point shooting? He has one elite skill, but Georgetown will need him to do more this year, such as rebound (a 6.6% rebounding rate last year will need improvement).
Timothy Ighoefe, Jr., Center
7’0”, 250 lbs.
Last Season: 9.1 minutes, 2.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.7 blocks per game (44.2% FG / 66.7% FT)
Any conversation about Ighoefe starts and ends with this: can he stay on the floor? Ighoefe averaged 7 personal fouls per 40 minutes last season, which led last year’s team by a mile. That is not anywhere close to acceptable from a starting center, and he will need to cut down on that significantly this year if he is going to start.
Ighoefe does have some encouraging numbers, albeit in limited minutes in his first two seasons as a Hoya. 13.9 rebounds per 40 minutes is an encouraging stat, and Big Tim also had a higher blocks/40 min. (2.9), block rate (7.9%), and rebounding rate (18.8%) than Qudus Wahab did last year. Ighoefe also had the third-best defensive rating on the team last season. Whether he can maintain those numbers over a larger sample size of minutes this year remains to be seen.
The question heading into this season is what Ighoefe can do with a full offseason under his belt, something he didn’t get due to COVID in between his freshman and sophomore years. For Georgetown’s sake, they better hope it makes all the difference, or it could be a very long year.
Malcolm Wilson, Jr., Center
7’0’, 205 lbs.
Last Season: 3.2 minutes, 0.4 points, 1.2 rebounds, 0.3 blocks per game (Only attempted 2 shots last season)
Wilson is still a giant unknown heading into his junior season. Theoretically, he could be this team’s backup center behind Ighoefe, which is a significant concern. Wilson has shown a good basketball IQ so far, but his severe lack of minutes up to this point means it’s hard to make any kind of projection about him heading into the season. Georgetown should not count on him for any meaningful production this year, but they may have no choice but to with how shaky their depth is at center this year.
Dante Harris, So., Point Guard
6’0”, 170 lbs.
Last Season: 30.3 minutes, 8.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals per game (34.9% FG / 26% 3FG / 89.7% FT)
Harris proved at the tail-end of last season that he is more than capable of running this team. The shifty point guard was one of the driving forces behind Georgetown’s Big East Tournament title, and showed that he can be counted on as a core piece of this program in the years to come.
Now, the challenge for the sophomore point guard will be improving his efficiency and his shot-making in Year Two, because both were sore spots for Harris throughout last season. Harris’s 43.8% true shooting percentage was third lowest on the team in 2020-21, as was his 39.4% effective field goal percentage. On top of that, his Player Efficiency Rating was third lowest on the team too, at 9.1.
If Harris can become even just an average shooter, which he showed signs of becoming in the postseason last year, it will do wonders for the Georgetown offense. Harris is a willing passer (20% assist rate last year), but will need to take on a greater scoring role this year for Georgetown’s offense to find success as a unit.
With an 18% usage rate last year, Harris will need to defer less on offense and attack the rim more. A 17.9% free throw rate will need to be improved upon, and hopefully a season of conditioning and weight training will add some bulk to Harris’ frame to allow him to take more contact around the rim this year.
There is a ton of promise for Harris. There is also a considerable amount of pressure on him to produce this year, which was not the case when he started last season as the team’s backup point guard. It would be silly to doubt that he will meet the lofty expectations set out for him this year, but it may take him some time to get comfortable in a more prominent role this year.
Kobe Clark, So., Forward
6’6”, 180 lbs.
Last Season: 4.0 minutes, 0.6 points, 1.6 rebounds per game (18.2% FG / 66.7% FT)
Kobe Clark got off to a promising start in his freshman season last year, seeing 12 minutes in the season opener against UMBC and 7 minutes in the second game against Navy. However, an injury derailed his momentum after that, and Clark struggled to get minutes for the rest of the season once he returned, playing a grand total of 21 minutes in 8 games the rest of the season.
Clark’s lack of opportunity was confusing, considering the defensive and rebounding ability he showed in the first two games of the season. At 6-foot-6, Clark is an athletic wing who displays a high basketball IQ that could certainly come in handy for Georgetown this season. His 21.6% rebounding rate was tops on Georgetown last year, as was his 2.8% steal rate.
Clark will get more minutes this season if he can improve on the other end of the floor. Clark’s shot required a lot of work last season, and he looked like a deer in the headlights at times running halfcourt offense. If he can improve there, Clark could be a solid rotation piece for the Hoyas in 2021-22.
Collin Holloway, So., Forward
6’6”, 220 lbs.
Last Season: 4.4 minutes, 1.5 points, 0.7 rebounds (54.5% FG / 42.9% FT)
Another young wing who didn’t receive much opportunity last year, until late in the season for Holloway, who had a few nice moments in spot duty in the Big East Tournament.
Holloway is similar to Clark in that he provides defense and rebounding (10.2% offensive rebounding rate last year), but Holloway is a little more controlled on the offensive end of the floor. However, he’s also not the athlete that Clark is, so both players have their pros and cons. How both are used this year will be interesting.
Holloway was spotted in a boot on campus late this summer and into the early fall, and there is a question whether he is going to be healthy enough to play in the season opener. Right now, his status looks iffy.
Tyler Beard, Fr., Guard
6’2”, 180 lbs.
The Chicago native will likely be the team’s backup point guard from Day One, which is asking a lot from a player who wasn’t a full-time point guard in high school until he took his postgrad year at Hargrave. The Hoyas will need him to play under control and mistake-free to help spell Dante Harris this season.
Jordan Riley, Fr., Guard
6’4”, 195 lbs.
Riley has already established himself as the best athlete on the team, according to reports coming out of preseason practices and workouts. But he is still learning the finer details of the game and is still a raw prospect. Would be surprised to see him counted on for major minutes off the bench right away.
Jalin Billingsley, Fr., Forward
6’8”, 225 lbs.
The star of the preseason, from all accounts. While I expect Rice to get the opening day start at the 4, I would not be surprised at all to see Billingsley starting by season’s end, especially if Rice struggles defensively. Billingsley has looked really good in practice and looks to be more ready for the college game than some thought he would be when he originally committed to Georgetown.
Ryan Mutombo, Fr., Center
7’2”, 252 lbs.
Like Billingsley, Mutombo will likely get an opportunity sooner rather than later this season. If Ighoefe and Wilson struggle to give the Hoyas much at the center position, you could see Patrick Ewing turn to Ryan Mutombo to give the team a spark. Whether Mutombo is ready to handle the physicality of the college game as a freshman remains to be seen.
Aminu Mohammed, Fr., Guard
6’5”, 210 lbs.
For Georgetown to have any success this season, it’s going to need Mohammed to acclimate to the college game quickly. He should start immediately, and will play a big role on both ends of the floor. Mohammed played point guard for his high school team at times, and he may have some responsibility at Georgetown for bringing the ball up on offense and playing more of a facilitating role at times, especially when Dante Harris is off the floor.
Mohammed is a well-rounded player who does a lot of things well, which is good for Georgetown, who is lacking of players with similar versatility and skill. The big thing to watch with Mohammed is how his shot looks. Based on the limited preseason practice footage we’ve seen, it already looks better than what it was in high school. That would really help take his game to the next level— an NBA-caliber level.
In our Big East preview, I slotted Georgetown in at 7th overall in the conference, which feels optimistic. That prediction had more to do with the lack of quality in the bottom half of the Big East this year than it does feeling good about this year’s Georgetown team.
As you can see above, there are a lot of questions surrounding this Georgetown team. What do they do at center? Who starts at the 4? Can Dante Harris and Don Carey shoulder a much heavier scoring load?
But there are other Big East teams facing questions too, and there are parts about this Georgetown team that I am bullish on, including:
A dominant season from Aminu Mohammed
An unexpectedly strong debut season from Jalin Billingsley
Dante Harris making the expected leap in his second year
One of Kobe Clark or Collin Holloway becoming a dependable two-way wing player in the rotation
I expect Georgetown to go 7-4 in non-conference play, and wouldn’t be surprised to see a midmajor pick them off in the first three games of the season. This is a young team that has a lot of things to figure out early on, and the on-court product will likely be sloppy and erratic to start this season off. Patrick Ewing will likely experiment with lineups for much of non-conference play, which could lead to up-and-down results for this team early on.
The first real test will come on November 25 in the Wooden Legacy matchup against San Diego State, who is ranked #33 according to KenPom. That will begin to tell us what we can expect from this team this year. Win that game and things might be looking up for this team, but that matchup may come a bit too early in the season for the Hoyas to be up to the test, which is OK. Patience will (once again) be key this season.
Dante Harris looks to be ready to take the next step in his progression as this team’s leader, and he will be called upon to provide scoring, passing, and the stout defense that we saw from him last year. He had the luxury of being a complementary piece for much of last year, but he will be front-and-center now.
The real test for this team will start on December 22, when Big East play begins. Patrick Ewing will need to have his team ready by then, or things could get ugly. Ewing has yet to finish a season with a .500 or better record in conference play, and it’s hard to see him breaking that streak with this year’s team. Any record that is better than 9-11 would have to be considered a win for this season, all things considered.
Of course, Georgetown could capture lightning in a bottle like it did late last year and make a real postseason push, but it’s hard to envision that this year with an even younger and more inexperienced team than last year. The goal for the Hoyas should be developing its young core and building towards 2022-23; anything more would be gravy.
Overall Record: 16-15
Non-Conference Record: 7-4
Conference Record: 9-11