The 2015 NBA Draft, which will give 60 prospects around the world an opportunity to pursue their dreams as professional basketball players, will begin tonight at 7 PM. Hundreds of players have been working hard to try to prove that they deserve to be one of those 60, and the Georgetown community will undoubtedly pay particularly close attention to three particular prospects: Jabril Trawick, Joshua Smith and Greg Whittington.
Each of these three players has played for Georgetown at some point in the recent future, but each of them brings something unique to the basketball court. In addition, each of them has experienced a different journey through their college careers.
Trawick, a hard-nosed shooting guard from Philadelphia, had the most conventional college career. He graduated from Abington Friends School in 2011 before arriving at Georgetown. He was not a high-profile recruit, and received sporadic playing time as a freshman. However, Trawick displayed significant improvement in each season, particularly as a shooter and leader.
Defense and toughness are always in demand in the NBA, and Trawick possesses significant amounts of both of these attributes. In addition, at 6-foot-5, he is big enough to hold his own physically. However, his NBA future probably depends on his offense. Although he was a co-captain and key figure for last season’s Hoyas team, he never averaged more than 9.1 points per game during his Georgetown career.
His three-point shooting has greatly improved since his freshman season. In his four seasons, his three-point percentages were 24.0, 29.9, 31.3 and 40.7, which bodes well for his future in a league that is increasingly dominated by outside shooting. However, he will need to demonstrate that his improvement was genuine and not a result of his relatively small sample size.
In addition, Trawick’s ball-handling will need to continue to improve. As a senior, he averaged a career-high 2.4 assists per game, but he turned the ball over at least 1.6 times per game in each of his final three seasons.
There is no doubt that Trawick has limitations as a player, but as all Georgetown fans know, he is extremely determined and has consistently improved throughout his career.
Whittington’s collegiate career had many more twists and turns. Like Trawick, he debuted in 2011-12, averaging 4.3 points per game in 20.1 minutes. As a sophomore, Whittington appeared to be a burgeoning star alongside fellow wing player Otto Porter Jr. He scored 12.1 points per game and grabbed 7.0 rebounds per game in the Hoyas’ first 13 games of 2012-13, but was suspended for the remainder of the season due to academic deficiencies.
To add injury to insult, Whittington suffered a torn ACL during the summer between his sophomore and junior seasons, and although his rehab was going well, he was dismissed from the team on November 30, 2013.
Following his dismissal, the versatile 6-foot-8 forward announced his intentions to transfer to Rutgers, but never enrolled in the school. He then planned to play in the NBA Development League, but never appeared in a game.
Needless to say, Whittington is shrouded in mystery. Because he has not appeared in a game since January 8, 2013, it is impossible to know what kind of player he is nowadays. At his best, he was an athletic, versatile forward with a developing outside shot and natural rebounding ability. However, it’s hard to tell exactly what sort of professional future he has without seeing him on the court in the past two years.
Center Joshua Smith also had a turbulent college career. Smith was a highly-touted recruit coming out of Kentwood High School in Washington, but battled conditioning issues and butted heads with then-coach Ben Howland during an uneven three seasons at UCLA.
He then transferred to Georgetown, where he had a fair amount of success in the beginning of his first season. He scored 11.5 points per game on 65.5 percent shooting from the field, but snared only 3.4 rebounds per game. Similarly to Whittington, he was then suspended for the remainder of the season due to academic issues. As a senior, Smith’s effort was markedly better, as he improved his rebounding average to 5.8 per game.
Smith’s game is far easier to analyze. On offense, he is a behemoth in the low-post. He combines a massive frame with surprisingly good touch and nimble feet, and is almost unstoppable once he catches the ball in a favorable location. However, he is not as effective as a pick-and-roll player and has dealt with conditioning and weight issues throughout his career. On defense, Smith’s lack of mobility would be a big problem in the NBA and would need to rapidly improve in order to facilitate a successful career in the league.
Each of these three players has had several workouts with NBA teams, and even if they are not selected, the former Hoyas should have opportunities to pursue professional careers elsewhere. Regardless of what occurs in tonight’s draft, the Georgetown community wishes the best of luck to these three young men as they prepare to begin their careers.
Tyler Park is a rising sophomore in the College. He is the current sports editor for The Hoya.
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