What’s better than playing basketball with a good friend in high school?

Having that same friend on your team in college.

Brandon Bowman and Ashanti Cook – the two boldest names on the list of Hoya newcomers – are doing just that. Both freshmen attended Westchester High in Los Angeles where they led their team to a 32-2 record, the California State Championship and a No. 1 ranking in USA Today.

“We got really lucky,” Head Coach Craig Esherick said of being able to attract both players to Georgetown.

Bowman averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game as a forward at Westchester. He recorded 22 points – the same number as returning junior All-American forward Mike Sweetney- and six steals. His high school teammate Cook averaged 13 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals per game en route to Westchester High’s state championship.

In Georgetown’s exhibition game against Latvia Select, Bowman proved he could be formidable on both offense and defense. He amassed 22 points, six steals and five assists in the rout.

Cook’s solid play at guard in place of injured sophomore guard Drew Hall against Latvia Select showed that he and Bowman will complement each other well, much like Hall and fellow sophomore guard Tony Bethel, who both attended Montrose Christian in Rockville, Md.

“It’s going to be a huge benefit, just based on how Tony and Drew play together,” Esherick said. “A point guard knowing what someone else can do on the floor is a valuable tool in relationship to the fluidity of an offense. Ashanti knows a lot of what Brandon can do.”

The duo that forms the core of the newcomers for the Georgetown men’s basketball team almost never was. Cook initially signed a National Letter of Intent with New Mexico, and had expected to play under Head Coach Fran Fraschilla. Following Fraschilla’s dismissal, he began to have second thoughts about becoming a Lobo.

From there it was Bowman’s positive regard for Georgetown that helped lure the wavering guard to the East Coast. “When Ashanti’s parents asked Brandon’s parents what they thought of me and Georgetown and D.C., I think that helped us probably more than anything,” Esherick said.

Though New Mexico released Cook in early July after he agreed to enroll at Georgetown, it was feared that National Letter of Intent stipulations would force Cook to sit out his first year. When the conference commissioners reviewed his case, however, they decided that because of the extenuating circumstances involving the coaching change and the fact the Cook had never formally enrolled at New Mexico, he should be allowed an unconditional release from his Letter of Intent.

“If New Mexico hadn’t had some of the problems that they had during the course of the season, and if their coach was still there, I don’t know if this would’ve happened. That’s why I feel fortunate that [Cook] fell in our lap,” Esherick said.

Sophomore Darrel Owens should also see his first playing time this year. He was sidelined last season as a result of NCAA Clearinghouse rules violations. Owens, who averaged 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game at Assumption High in Napoleanville, La., may see little playing time though, listed at third on depth charts for both forward and guard.

Esherick wanted to make it clear that Owens was being considered a newcomer and would have to work to earn a starting spot. “I told Darrel that he was going to be called a freshman,” he said.

Bowman, Cook and Owens are expected to contribute greatly to a Hoya team that fell short of the NCAA Tournament last season. Plus, they are anticipated to require little training to bring their play up to par with that of Big East rivals.

“All three of those kids are ready to play college basketball right now,” Esherick said. “If we were to play some of our conference games at the very beginning of the season, I think all three would play.”

Two walk-ons to the team, freshmen Ryan Beal and Amadou Kilkenny-Diaw, are expected to increase the team’s depth. Beal, from Miami, was a second-team selection on the Florida 2A All-State Team. Kilkenny-Diaw attended St. Albans in Washington, D.C., and averaged 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocks per game.

“I feel better about our depth than I did last year,” Esherick said. “We’re deep at every position. We have the makings of at least having a better team than last year.”

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