Top 68 Team Previews: #21 Missouri Tigers
Marcus Denmon is one of the best returning guards in the Big 12. (Icon SMI)
By Ryan Feldman
Friday, October 7, 2011
Last Season: 21-11 (10-8)
Key Losses: Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, Julian Vaughn
Head Coach: John Thompson III
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Markel Starks 6-2 So.
SG: Jason Clark 6-2 Sr.
SF: Hollis Thompson 6-7 Jr.
PF: Nate Lubick 6-8 So.
C: Henry Sims 6-10 Sr.
Key Reserves: Otto Porter 6-9 Fr. SF, Jabril Trawick 6-5 Fr. SG, Mikael Hopkins 6-8 Fr. PF, Tyler Adams 6-9 Fr. C
In what will likely go down as the most memorable moment of college basketball's 2011 offseason, Georgetown's goodwill trip to China in mid-August was marred by a brawl with the Bayi Rockets. The uncommon incident left many former Hoyas chiming in on Twitter, most notably Chris Wright: "we don't advocate violence but we definitely don't tolerate the nonsense. We represent a lot more than most college teams." Wright was right with that statement, but what will the senior class of Jason Clark and Henry Sims come to represent? The two players have yet to win an NCAA tournament game during their three years in our nation's capital.
John Thompson III boasted a 6-2 record in NCAA play after three years on the job, but the most recent four seasons have left much to be desired as the Hoyas are 1-3 in March Madness. Upsets have come at the hands of Davidson, Ohio and Virginia Commonwealth – the latter two were blowouts. The 45-year-old former Princeton coach has two years remaining on his contract and could need some postseason success in order to remain at Georgetown past 2013.
Sophomore point guard Markel Starks is a key piece if the Hoyas are going to be players in the Big East. The aforementioned Wright is playing professionally in Turkey and Starks will be leaned upon to replace the missing 5.3 assists per game. As a freshman, Starks played just a tad under 10 minutes per contest and struggled from behind the arc, shooting just 25.7 percent. However, he does possess range in addition to being an explosive penetrator. With Wright sidelined with a hand injury late last season, Starks saw increased playing time but struggled to stay out of foul trouble. Starks will have to stay on the court as the point guard options are limited with Vee Sanford transferring to Dayton after two unproductive seasons as a Hoya.
For NBA scouts visiting "The Phone Booth" this winter, Hollis Thompson is the player they will be keeping their eyes on. The 6-foot-7 junior small forward left a lasting impression on Georgetown fans in an otherwise forgettable loss to VCU. Thompson, who has no relation to the head coach, poured in 26 points on 8-of-10 shooting in the season finale. For his size, Thompson has a sweet stroke from the perimeter, finishing fourth in the Big East in 3-point field goal percentage (45 percent). Along with Clark, Thompson will be called upon to provide a bulk of the scoring for the blue and gray. The duo is the only returning players who averaged more than four points per game in 2010-11.
Coach Thompson secured a five-recruit freshman class, ranked 13th in the nation and headlined by 6-foot-9 small forward Otto Porter. ESPN's scouting report raves Porter "can make scoring plays off the dribble like a 6-3 wing." The Missouri-native didn't play AAU basketball, thus was considered a hidden gem.
Jabril Trawick is an athletic two-guard with star potenntial. He can score from anywhere on the court and will have to play big-time minutes right away behind Starks, Clark and Thompson.
Georgetown will be one of the bigger teams in college basketball this season with six or seven key players that measure 6-foot-7 or taller. Freshmen Mikael Hopkins, Tyler Adams and Porter will provide depth behind Nate Lubick and Sims.
The Hoyas have added some meat to their non-conference schedule in recent years. A showdown with Kansas looms in a star-studded Maui Invitational. Alabama will welcome Georgetown to Tuscaloosa as part of the Big East/SEC Challenge and Memphis will battle the Hoyas in Washington once again.
The Big East will be a deep conference once again this season. For a Hoyas squad that lost three key contributors, the trip to China couldn't have come at a better time. (NCAA guidelines allow overseas trips only once every four years.) This bunch should return to The Big Dance but are likely a year or two away from making a run into the tournament's second weekend.