- Myron Medcalf, ESPN Staff Writer
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In the weeks leading up to the June 27 NBA draft, we’ll be taking a look at the 20 schools that have produced the best pros in the modern draft era (since 1989, when the draft went from seven to two rounds). Click here to read Eamonn Brennan’s explanation of the series, which will be featured in the Nation blog each morning as we count down the programs from 20 to 1.
Top Five NBA Draftees Since 1989
Allen Iverson (1996)
Alonzo Mourning (1992)
Dikembe Mutombo (1991)
Roy Hibbert (2008)
Greg Monroe (2010)
Sixth man: Jeff Green (2007)
The rest: Charles Edward Smith, Jaren Jackson, Robert Churchwell, Don Reid, Jerome Williams, Othella Harrington, Jahidi White, Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, Mike Sweetney, Patrick Ewing Jr., DaJuan Summers, Chris Wright, Henry Sims
Why they’re ranked where they are: My barbershop -- all barbershops -- was buzzing after Allen Iverson embarrassed the Great One with a couple of crossovers that froze the legend.
“Did you see it?”
“I can’t believe he did that.”
“He fears no man.”
On March 12, 1997, Michael Jordan still ruled the NBA. That season culminated with Jordan and the Chicago Bulls winning their fifth NBA title.
But it was clear then that his reign would end soon. Superman would eventually age.
The NBA’s influx of young talent, however, boasted a fleet of potential successors.
When his Philadelphia 76ers faced the eventual champs that night, Iverson was an emerging candidate. He was a 6-foot ball of agility, speed, skill and explosiveness. And he met the hype that began building during the 1997 rookie of the year’s debut.
Iverson was one of the greatest players in NBA history.
That double-crossover against Jordan demonstrated the bravado Iverson exuded then. He wasn’t the first young cat to challenge MJ. But his audacity and success contributed to the notion that he was ready to seize the throne. The career-high 37 points that evening provided more proof that the Georgetown product could be NEXT in the NBA.
In his prime, Iverson wrestled with a variety of All-Stars for the “best in the NBA” title. The league MVP in 2001, Iverson carried the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals. They lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.
But the second-best player on that 76ers roster might have been Aaron McKie. Think about that.
Iverson averaged 31.1 PPG, 4.6 APG and 2.5 SPG in 2000-01. Few players throughout the history of the league have carried that much weight in a run to the Finals.
Iverson was an 11-time All-Star. He was named to the NBA’s all-first team three times. He won the scoring title four times. And he averaged 26.7 PPG, 6.2 APG and 2.2 SPG (78 percent free throw shooter) throughout a 14-year career.
His messy exit and disastrous post-NBA existence have made the memories of “AI” feel ancient. But he stood with the league’s kings for many years.
He is certainly the best player Georgetown has produced since the 1989 draft, the cutoff for this project.
For most of the schools that have cracked our “Path to the Draft” rankings, Iverson would represent an anomaly.
Multiple schools produced a single superstar who anchored their entire NBA legacies. But Georgetown is different.
Iverson is certainly the top performer within this group. But he’s not the only elite athlete representing the Hoyas.
Georgetown is No. 2 because the majority of the school’s draftees in the last 20-plus years are/were stars at the next level.
Iverson, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, Greg Monroe, Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green anchor a group that’s second in our rankings because of its undeniable depth and talent. The numbers are modest: 19 draftees since 1989.
But Mutombo, Mourning, Hibbert and Iverson made a combined 26 All-Star appearances. And Green and Monroe could be All-Stars soon.
Othella Harrington played for 11 years. Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams was the consummate glue guy and a gritty rebounder.
Mourning’s career was interrupted by kidney issues. But he played most of his career as one of the league’s best bigs. He was a seven-time All-Star. In both 1999 and 2000, he was the defensive player of the year and the NBA’s blocks leader.
Mutombo was a four-time defensive player of the year. He led the NBA in rebounding twice and blocks three times. He was also vital for that 76ers team that lost to the Lakers in the 2001 NBA Finals (11.7 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 2.5 BPG).
But the Hoyas also have three current NBA players who've emerged as future stars, too.
Hibbert was impressive throughout this season’s playoffs. He’s one of the top centers in the NBA right now.
The Boston Celtics are changing. Their new nucleus could revolve around Jeff Green, who revived his career in 2012-13 after missing significant time with a heart issue.
And the Detroit Pistons have a potent young big man in Greg Monroe.
That’s a hefty lineup.
My guess is that Georgetown in the No. 2 slot will draw boos from some folks who’ve followed our rankings. But the Hoyas deserve this position.
This is a stacked assembly that surpasses any group we’ve mentioned thus far.
Why they could be higher: It’s simple. Georgetown has arguably produced the most impressive collection of talent since the 1989 draft.
Mutombo, Mourning and Iverson were all great players during their respective stints in the league. All three could be in the Hall of Fame.
But the current reps have high ceilings.
Hibbert (2013 playoffs: 17.0 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 51.1 field goal percentage, 81 percent from the free throw line) was one of the most effective players in the postseason. He’s obviously on the rise. The Pacers will pay him a lot of money soon.
Monroe (16.0 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 49 field goal percentage in 2012-13) is a franchise player for the Pistons.
And Green (2013 playoffs: 20.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, 84.4 percent of his free throws, 45.5 percent from the 3-point line in six playoff games in 2012-13) was a beast in a postseason loss to the New York Knicks.
Georgetown could make an argument for the No. 1 slot in our rankings because the Hoyas have a balance of past and current standouts that’s difficult to match. The program’s past is rich with players who were all considered elite, and its future is attached to multiple athletes who are considered some of the NBA’s top youngsters right now.
That’s why the Hoyas could be a potential No. 1 in these rankings.
Why they could be lower: This is not a quantitative project. But the 19 draft picks would be the only valid reason to demote Georgetown. Our rankings have featured teams that have sent dozens of players to the NBA since the 1989 draft.
Georgetown, however, has averaged less than one draftee per year throughout our eligibility period. Arizona, No. 4 in our rankings, has produced 32 draft picks since 1989. Kansas, No. 14, has sent 34 players to the league since that time.
But I think Georgetown’s concentration of talent overrides any debates about its numbers.
What’s ahead? Well, we’ve already discussed the new flag-bearers for Georgetown. Hibbert, Green and Monroe continue to evolve each year.
Three guys who’ve become anchors on NBA teams.
In a few days, Otto Porter Jr. will become Georgetown’s latest lottery pick and young prospect.
He’s an ideal pro small forward. He’s 6-foot-8. He’s comfortable as a ball handler. He has enough length to hurt opponents inside. He’s dangerous from the field, too (42.2 percent from the 3-point line last season). And he’s efficient (118.8 offensive rating in 2012-13 per KenPom.com).
He’s a top-five pick on many draft boards.
No guarantees that he’ll become a star. But he has the tools to perform at a high level once he arrives.
He was born to play the 3-spot in the NBA.
And Georgetown’s NBA legacy suggests that Porter will adjust well.
Final thoughts: I understand the arguments. But I don’t agree with them.
Yes, multiple teams could have been listed at No. 2.
Duke, Connecticut, Arizona and others are strong candidates.
But I’ll take Georgetown every day.
Iverson was the best guard in the league for a healthy stretch. Mutombo and Mourning were two of the greatest defensive players of all time. Hibbert? Identify a better center in the NBA today.
Green is a necessary component for a Boston Celtics team that’s rebuilding. And Monroe is the man in the Motor City.
That’s a special crew.
Only one team can top it.
In the weeks leading up to the June 27 NBA draft, we’ll be taking a look at the 20 schools that have produced the best pros in the modern draft era (since 1989, when the draft went from seven to two rounds).