He arrived on the Hilltop in the sweltering heat of the Washington, D.C. summer. Not even 10 months later, he left through a freight elevator hidden in the dim concrete halls of Madison Square Garden.
One season was all transfer and graduate student guard Rodney Pryor had with Georgetown. But in that season, we embraced him as a player and as a Hoya.
Thirty-one contests later, Pryor’s season — Georgetown’s season — came down to one game — not for a championship, a conference title or even a tournament bid.
At the end of Georgetown’s worst season in 45 years, all that was left was the hope of snapping a five-game losing streak and winning a Big East tournament game against 8-seed St. John’s — all before presumably falling to the reigning national champions, No. 2 Villanova.
From squandering late-game leads, to losing embarrassingly at home, to losing in every disappointing way possible, Georgetown — along with Pryor — somehow had a final chance at a bittersweet ending.
But Georgetown basketball is not a merciful vice.
I am 22 years old and have been a Georgetown basketball fan since I was 11. To say Georgetown basketball shaped my life is an understatement.
Growing up in Northern Virginia, talks of a new coach — the son of legendary John Thompson Jr. — filled coffee shops and TV talk shows. As a kid just getting into sports, the Hoyas’ team play and sharp uniforms caught my eye, and Georgetown became my dream school.
Once here, its prestige and mystique inspired me to apply for The Hoya for a chance to cover them one day. Thanks to many, I got that chance, and the rest is history.
History only remembers the winners, and Georgetown basketball is no longer a winner.
We all know the history of this team: the historic win over then-No. 1 Duke, the Sweet 16 run, the magical Final Four in ’07, star-studded recruiting classes ending in multiple early tournament exits, Florida Gulf Coast University and the complete catastrophe that is the new Big East.
In recent weeks, however, new light has been shed on the program as Head Coach John Thompson III has come under fire. Major sports networks have published pieces on Thompson’s future in the program and talking heads and former players have delivered polarizing opinions on the Thompson family as a whole.
In the midst of this, a Georgetown outsider was diving for loose balls, elevating for dunks and carrying the scoring load of a depleted team. Pryor gave the program everything this season, and not unlike him, Georgetown fans did the same.
Last summer, Pryor’s arrival alongside freshman guard Jagan Mosely and transfer junior guard Jonathan Mulmore came with promises. Thompson promised change and a new-look team, an implementation of modern wrinkles into his tried-and-true system and, most of all, the allure of the brand new Thompson Athletic Center.
Unfair or unfounded, Pryor always seemed to be the torchbearer for these changes. He was a fifth-year transfer — the first in Thompson’s tenure — who shot and made three-pointers off the dribble at a high rate, played at a fast pace and boasted top-level athleticism — all flashy features of the supposedly new-look Hoyas.
Nearly a year later, the Hoyas are 14-18 (5-13 Big East) and have missed the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years. By any and all accounts, this season was a complete failure.
Pryor, however, was not. He opened the season with a career-high 32 points, led the team in scoring and recorded one of the best single-season three-point shooting percentages in Georgetown history at 41.4 percent. Now, scouts posit a potential NBA career for the standout guard.
Pryor carried his torch for this team and so much more. The rest of the program, unfortunately, did not.
For every game, the fans supported Pryor and the rest of the crew. Rallying a student body and a fan base around a losing team is no easy task, but Hoya Blue was there, Casual Hoya was there and every die-hard fan was there.
We carried our torches for this team and so much more. The rest of the program did not.
Walking off the Garden floor last Wednesday, Pryor had played his last game for the Hoyas. Once toiling away on a junior college team, Pryor scored 17 points, grabbed five rebounds and recorded three assists in a Big East tournament game. His journey in the Blue and Gray ended under the brightest lights.
The journey of the fans — toward change, toward a new hope, toward anything tangibly and markedly different — has not ended.
In the face of uncertainty and the looming fear of chaos and disorder, apathy is not the answer. A fan base that can be heard is a fan base that demands answers.
If I am anything like other die-hard fans, my once-thin patience has also vanished.
In my 11 years of following this team, our fan base has seen far too many players arrive in the dead of summer and leave through that same Madison Square Garden elevator. And we will we see many more as we metro in for Kenner league, train up to the Garden for the Big East tournament, sit in the stands at the Verizon Center game after game — watching, waiting for change, carrying the torch for players like Rodney Pryor.
Paolo Santamaria is a junior in the College. He is the Executive Editor of The Hoya.
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