Roy Hibbert should be the envy of all the other centers in the draft.

Sure, the scuttlebutt since Georgetown’s season came to a cruel end last month has been over Roy Hibbert’s falling draft status.

Basketball enthusiasts on the Hilltop and national analysts alike seem to agree that, rightly or wrongly, Hibbert’s draft stock took a big hit this season, most notably with his six-point, five-foul effort against the Wildcats.

ESPN’s NBA Draft analyst, Chad Ford, wondered in a recent column whether “[it’s] time to stick a fork in Roy Hibbert’s draft stock?” Nevermind that his metaphor suggests that he thinks Hibbert won’t get drafted at all, Ford says that “[Hibbert’s] lack of athleticism, rebounding and lateral quickness could really hurt him in the NBA.” He seems to think the best case scenario for the 7-foot-2 pivot is mid-first round and the worst case is somewhere in the 20s.

NBADraft.net, one of the more popular mock-draft sites on the Internet, had as of Sunday night five centers being taken ahead of Hibbert, who they think will be selected 23rd by the Jazz.

But here is the thing: Hibbert is in the best situation of all.

The first of those five is Stanford sophomore center Brook Lopez. Lopez averaged 19.3 points and eight rebounds this season and scored 56 points in his final two collegiate games, a win against Marquette and a loss to Texas.

Lopez displays an athleticism that is rare among big men and should help him to excel as a rebounder and defender at the next level. His offensive moves are not quite as refined as Hibbert’s, but his athleticism and soft touch should be enough to make him effective at the offensive end.

Next, according to NBADraft.net, would be DeAndre Jordan, a 7-foot freshman from Texas A&M. Jordan, another superior athlete, played 20 minutes a night this season, scoring eight points and grabbing six rebounds. NBADraft.net compares Jordan to Dwight Howard, and if he ever does get that good, taking him at No. 9 overall would be a steal. But those kinds of expectations I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

At No. 11, NBADraft.net has 7-foot Nevada sophomore center JaVale McGee. McGee, cut from the same cloth as former Wolf Pack big man Nick Fazekas, McGee can step back and hit a jumper; he hit a modest 14-of-42 threes last season as he averaged 14 points and seven boards. He also blocked 2.8 points a game. Playing in the Western Athletic Conference, McGee didn’t face a whole lot of top competition, but he did go for 14, seven and four blocks against Carolina in November. His team lost by 36.

Five spots later, NBADraft.net has the 76ers taking UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet. Thabeet, with whom Georgetown fans should be quite familiar, is a 7-foot-3 sophomore, who is bursting with athleticism but has yet to really put it together. He improved this season and averaged 10.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and a cool 4.5 blocks a night, but he remains the poster boy for “raw,” especially on offense.

Finally, we’ve got Brook Lopez’s twin brother, Robin. Robin is the one with the long hair and the reckless abandon that comes with that kind of ‘do. He averaged 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds this year but is considered a potential energy guy off the bench in the NBA. For more reasons than just his hair, he’s been compared to Anderson Varejao.

And then comes Roy.

Had Roy left after last season, he probably would have been a lottery pick. He could have parlayed a strong junior season and an impressive performance against Greg Oden in the national semifinals into a lottery pick. You think the 76ers wouldn’t have taken Hibbert over Spencer Hawes at No. 12?

But now, as some predicted would happen, Hibbert’s strengths have been taken for granted, his weaknesses have been examined under a magnifying glass and he is no longer a sexy pick. He was supposed to come back to Georgetown and average 20 and 10. He was supposed to take over the Big East. He was definitely supposed to take over the game against Davidson. There is very little “what if?” factor surrounding his name these days, and his ceiling seems to be falling by the day.

But you know what? If I’m Roy Hibbert, I’m not too upset. None of the five centers have accomplished the things he has.

Brook and Robin Lopez only got to spend two years on the picturesque Stanford campus. They never won their league regular season (Hibbert did so twice) or its tournament (Hibbert once). They went to one Sweet 16 (Roy did so two times) and never made it to the Final Four. More importantly, neither has nearly as much experience as Roy does.

Jordan only played one season in college. He only got to take two semesters of classes. Presumably, he’s only ever lived in one college dorm. He never averaged in double figures, and he scored just six points in his two-game NCAA tournament career.

cGee played two seasons in the WAC. His team was never ranked higher than 10th, never seeded higher than seventh and only won one NCAA tournament game (McGee played nine minutes in that game).

Thabeet, well, I only need to say two things about him. Six and four; seven and two. Eighteen and 12; 20 and eight. The first two numbers are Thabeet’s points and boards against Hibbert, and the second two are Hibbert’s against Thabeet. Head-to-head, it is pretty clear who got the better of whom. Thabeet also never won an NCAA tournament game.

So maybe the Lopez twins, DeAndre Jordan, JaVale McGee and Hasheem Thabeet will jump now while they’re still somewhat unknown. They’ll parlay freakish athleticism and every NBA general manager’s desire to find the next big thing (literally) into a top 10 or 15 pick. But they’ll never get to be a real college student like Roy. They’ll never have another chance to be hoisted into the air by a bunch of their classmates because they helped to beat the No. 1 team in the country. I find it hard to believe they will ever be revered by a group of people like Roy is at Georgetown. Those guys have never and will never make the Final Four, and even if they win an NBA title, it won’t be the same.

eanwhile, Roy will go to whatever team will take him, and he’ll bring with him the experience he gained playing in the Big East for four years. That’ll help him on the court. He’ll also take along the experience he gained attending Georgetown for four years, dealing with professors, making friends who weren’t future NBA players and living life as a college kid for four years, and he’ll use that experience off the court.

And he’ll have a legacy at his school, something none of those other five guys can say. They will go into the record books as fleeting memories and agonizing what-could-have-been’s.

So here is a new spin on all this draft business. Maybe Roy Hibbert will be the sixth center taken. Maybe he’ll get a bit less guaranteed money. But I bet each of the five guys in front of him will be thinking, maybe just in some remote part of the back of his mind, he wishes he could have been a little bit more like Roy.

Bailey Heaps is a junior in the College and the Web editor at The Hoya. He can be reached at heapsthehoya.com. Spreading The Floor appears every other Tuesday in Hoya Sports.

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