Georgetown Senior Class Makes its Footprint
March 6, 2008
Three years ago, four freshmen came to Georgetown University after being recruited by another coach and to a team coming off only its second losing season in 32 years.
There are expectations that come with donning the Blue and Gray on the Hilltop. Under the direction of John Thompson, Jr. from 1972-99, the Hoyas became one of the dominant programs in the country.
Like any group of freshmen, this group wanted to reaffirm Georgetown's place in the national hierarchy.
And before they had even stepped on campus, they had a new coach.
It was an adjustment for sure, but this group was close and they wanted to see it through.
One more player came to the group - a transfer with a familiar name - and then they were five.
One of them left - Green, departing after his junior year in 2006-07 when he was the No. 5 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft - and the remaining four are finishing out the legacy of that class today.
Georgetown fans and students have known for a while they have had something special with this group.
In their first year, Crawford, Green, Hibbert and Wallace helped to turn the Hoyas from a 13-win team in 2003-04 to a 19-win team that reached the Quarterfinals of the NIT in 2004-05.
Green started every game his freshman season and was named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, averaging 13.1 points and 6.6 rebounds. Wallace, a walk-on who was recruited by then first-year head coach John Thompson III to Princeton, came to the Hilltop and quietly moved into the starting lineup for the first game of his career, against Temple. He averaged 6.5 points and 2.2 assists and hit 47 three-pointers. Hibbert, a 7-2 center from nearby Georgetown Prep who worked out at McDonough Arena as a scholastic, started 17 of 32 games and averaged 5.1 points and 3.5 rebounds. Crawford, in a role he has reprised throughout his career, appeared in 24 games and was a valuable reserve.
Feeling more confident and growing on the floor as a team and off the floor as friends, the success continued during the 2005-06 season.
Georgetown upset undefeated and then-No. 1 Duke in front of a sold-out crowd at Verizon Center - one of many packed houses that this group has seen in its downtown home in the District - and rode that wave all the way to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
Green earned First-Team All-BIG EAST honors that season, averaging 11.9 points and 7.1 rebounds. Wallace continued where he left off as a freshman and started all 33 games, seeing his scoring (7.9 ppg), assists (3.2 apg) and three-pointers (49). Hibbert, meanwhile, saw the biggest leap, starting every game and averaging 11.6 points and 6.9 rebounds while earning Second-Team All-BIG EAST accolades. Crawford developed into what he still is today, a player everyone associated with the program considers the "heart and soul" of the team with his hard work and selflessness. During the season, fans also caught a glimpse of what the younger Ewing would bring to the table. Since he had to sit out the season due to transfer rules, Ewing, Jr. had to serve as a cheerleader on the bench. Dressed in a suit for every game, fans became attracted to his energy and enthusiasm.
The true triumph of this class, to date at least, came during the 2006-07 season, when they were all juniors. The Hoyas rattled off win after win - including 11-straight against BIG EAST Conference opponents at one point during the regular season - and captured the BIG EAST Regular Season title. Thrilling games ensued in the BIG EAST Tournament Quarterfinals and Semifinals before the Hoyas dominated Pittsburgh in a 23-points win in the championship game.
The ride continued in the NCAA Tournament. After beating Belmont in the first round, the Hoyas came back to beat former BIG EAST rival in the second round, posted a thrilling win behind Green's game-winning shot against Vanderbilt in the Sweet 16, and then Wallace capped a huge comeback in the Elite Eight as the Blue and Gray beat North Carolina in overtime on the way to a 30-7 record and the program's first Final Four appearance since 1985.
The junior class led the way. Green led the team in scoring (14.3 ppg) and was second in rebounding (6.4 rpg) and assists (3.1) as he was named the BIG EAST's Player of the Year, the BIG EAST Tournament's Most Outstanding Performer and the Most Valuable Player of the NCAA Regional. Hibbert averaged 12.9 points and 6.9 rebounds and earned First-Team All-BIG EAST honors. Wallace set a school record with 73 three-pointers and averaged 11.4 points per game. Crawford started the first game of the season and came back to play a key reserve role after missing eight games with strep throat. And Ewing, Jr. proved to be a valuable reserve, averaging 4.1 points and 2.1 rebounds.
This year, the five had to do without Green, but Georgetown's season so far has placed this class among the top in an illustrious 100-plus year history of basketball.
Hibbert ranks among the top-20 all-time in scoring and rebounding. Wallace has started every game of his career, is the school's all-time leader in three-point field goals and ranks among the top-20 all-time in assists. Crawford has continued his role and contributes whenever and wherever needed. Ewing, Jr., playing a key role off the bench, has energized not only his teammates, but the fans in the stands with his athleticism.
Today is Senior Day for this class, but the legacy and memories they have made over the last four years will not be forgotten.
By Mike "Mex" Carey