Green remains in draft; Hibbert returns to Hoyas
WASHINGTON -- Hanging on the wall of McDonough Gymnasium are two rows of framed NBA jerseys, representing the 20 Georgetown players who made the jump to basketball's highest level.
At the other end of the gym hangs the program's lone NCAA national championship banner, which has been patiently waiting 23 years for a companion.
The juniors who led Georgetown to this year's Final Four are breaking up their act. Green announced that he will remain in the NBA draft, while Hibbert said he will withdraw his name and return for his senior season -- and a chance at an NCAA championship.
"It's hard for me to leave this place," said Green, the Big East player of the year. "College is something that happens only once in your life. It'll be tough knowing I'm not out there with the guys I came in with."
Had Green and Hibbert both returned, the Hoyas might have begun next season as the No. 1 ranked team. Instead, Green is leaving behind the chance at a title and is forsaking his long-stated goal of playing four years at Georgetown.
"Just sitting down with my family and coach, I feel like we came to a decision that I should stay in this draft, and it would be the best thing for me after the season that the team had and that I had," Green said. "I'm in a good position to go pretty high in this draft."
Green was selected as most outstanding player of the NCAA East Regional as the Hoyas reached the Final Four for the first time in 22 years. The 6-foot-9 forward has a versatile team-oriented game that should serve him well in the pros.
Green led Georgetown in scoring (14.3 points) and was second in both rebounding (6.4) and assists (3.2). However, he sometimes lacks aggressiveness: He took only five shots in the Final Four loss to Ohio State, further evidence that he doesn't yet know when to stop being the team player and take over the game.
"I didn't want to go out that way," Green said. "But it's the way I'm going to have to go out. I'm going to have to live with that."
Hibbert also isn't a finished product, but he has come a long way since he was a clumsy freshman. He led the Hoyas in rebounds (6.9), averaged 12.9 points and blocked 90 shots this season. A 7-foot-2, he will eventually be a coveted possession in the NBA, where big, traditional post players are becoming harder to find.
"I said to myself, 'Do I really want to go in the draft and sit on the bench?'" Hibbert said. "My heart was here. I feel like I have unfinished business here."
Green and Hibbert, who both took out insurance policies a year ago in case an injury ruined their future NBA careers, submitted their names as early entry candidates last month and have spent their time since then discerning their draft value. If anything, they've learned that the draft is far from a predictable science: Some mock drafts had Green going in the top 10 but not Hibbert, some had it the other way around, while others had both among the first 10 selections.
The draft is June 28, and Green has until June 18 to withdraw his name. He said his decision is not "set in stone," but he also said he is starting the process of selecting an agent. Once he hires an agent, he will be ineligible to return as a player, although he said he will be back at some point to finish his degree.
With Hibbert as the centerpiece, the Hoyas will still be a strong team next season. All the starters except Green are returning, and two top recruits are on the way.
But Green, the player John Thompson III called his "security blanket," will be almost impossible to replace.
"We're going to miss Jeff," Thompson said. "It's going to be an adjustment for all of us. We're going to collectively figure it out. I'm extremely supportive of both decisions, and we move on."
Thompson also announced that Kenya Hunter and David Cox will be his new assistant coaches. Hunter has been an assistant at Xavier, and Cox has been director of basketball operations at Pittsburgh. They replace Sydney Johnson, who was hired to coach Princeton, and Kevin Broadus, who is the new coach at Binghamton.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press