CHRIS BIEN/THE HOYA
CHRIS BIEN/THE HOYA
The most pressing question of the season for the Georgetown men’s basketball team is the one that no one will answer.

Characteristically tight-lipped, Head Coach John Thompson III and his players have divulged no clues as to the status of junior forward Greg Whittington, who underwent ACL reconstruction surgery in early July.

“Only God knows when Greg is going to be able to play,” Thompson said. “I have no idea when he will get back on the court. I know he will not step foot on the court one second before he is 100 percent physically and mentally ready to go.”

Georgetown announced in June that Whittington had torn his ACL. But since then, mum’s been the word on the subject, save for occasional references on Whittington’s Twitter feed (@GregHoya2: July 3 surgery day!!).

When asked about his teammate’s status at the team’s first media availability in late October, traditionally outspoken senior guard Markel Starks shied away from even discussing Whittington’s recovery process.

“I can’t give out that information,” he said.

Whittington, a 6-foot-8 forward who is widely considered the Hoyas’ top defender and among their best scorers, played in 13 games last year before academic troubles sidelined him in January. In those games, the then-sophomore recorded 17 steals and 11 blocks while averaging more than 12 points per game.

Whittington’s potential return to action remains the biggest question mark hanging over the Hoyas this season. The standard recovery period is six months, but the time frame can vary from four or five months to nearly a year based on the severity of the injury, success of the rehabilitation process and urgency of the player’s return.

A six-month recovery period would put Whittington back on the floor in January, near the beginning of Big East play. But the team’s first open practice confirmed that he was still prohibited from full participation in drills — standard for this point in rehabilitation — and many teams have erred on the side of caution lately regarding mid-season returns from the surgery.

“He is standing still shooting, without jumping,” Thompson explained when asked about the forward’s activity on the court. “Not even drills.”

However, Thompson noted that Whittington was contributing to practice in other ways.

“[Whittington]’s here every day,” he said. “He’s part of the team, observing, commenting and helping out however he can.”

While Whittington’s talent is evident, it’s worth noting that the late-season surge that earned the Hoyasa Big East regular season title and No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament occurred without him in the lineup — something Starks was quick to point out.

“Greg didn’t play the whole second half of the season,” he said.

Still, the departure of Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter for the NBA leaves a gaping hole on the wing of Thompson’s rotation, one a healthy Whittington would have filled perfectly.

The absence of either star swingman was a popular topic of questioning at the year’s first media day. And for once, Thompson had an answer when Starks refused.

The coach said he’s been asked a lot lately, “How are you going to replace Otto?”

“As a collective unit,” Thompson answered.

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