Friday November 6th, 2015

This article originally appeared in the the Nov. 9, 2015, issue of Sports Illustrated. Subscribe to the magazine here

That sound you heard on April 7 was the Hoyas’ faithful breathing a collective sigh of relief as D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera removed his name from NBA draft consideration. Once the 6'3" combo guard, among the best perimeter scorers in the NCAA, decided to return for his senior year, Georgetown once again became a front-runner for a Big East title and a threat to go deep into the NCAA tournament.

The knock on Smith-Rivera from pro scouts is that he is a tweener—too small for his natural position at shooting guard, and with too strong a shoot-first mentality to play point—but he is an absolute terror for college defenses. While also lauding his leadership and basketball IQ, coach John Thompson III sums up Smith-Rivera’s worth in simple terms: “At the end of the day we can put the ball in his hands, and he will score.”

For the last two seasons Smith-Rivera has carried the Hoyas’ offense, averaging 16.9 points in 34.9 minutes and shooting 39.0% from deep. Adept at connecting both off the dribble and on the catch, he’s also comfortable attacking the rim and getting to the line, where he shot 86.1% in 2014–15.

As Smith-Rivera enters the season, he has one priority, and it’s not improving his draft stock. “[NBA teams] can see what I bring to the table,” he says. “The only thing I’m going to focus on is continuing to win.”

X-Factor

Jessie Govan, 6'10" freshman center

Govan, a 6'10", 270-pound center, should have no problem acclimating to the physicality of the college game. “He can go on the block right now and score with either hand,” coach John Thompson III says.

Coach’s Take

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“We have a very good mix of experienced guys—and I’m putting my sophomores in that group—combined with our three freshman that all are going to contribute right away. And we have a lot of guys that can score. It is a good mix, the pieces of this group fit well together. And we’re going to be able to be more versatile and faster this year. We can play a lot of different ways with this group; we can be a big, rugged physical team that can grind it out, and we can be a fast team that can run up and down the court. We can win a lot of different ways. But we’re going to have to depend on our young kids to produce, and our freshman must ready to compete in the Big East and on the national stage. But I think they will be.” — John Thompson III

Projected depth chart

SI/Hanner Projected 2015-16 stats
Name Pos. PPG RPG APG ORtg POSS MINS
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera PG 17.8 4.5 3.1 121.3 24% 88%
Isaac Copeland PF 11.0 6.0 1.0 109.9 20% 70%
L.J. Peak SF 10.1 3.3 1.2 102.9 21% 68%
Jessie Govan C 8.4 5.7 0.8 102.7 20% 59%
Paul White SF/PF 7.2 3.7 1.4 107.4 18% 55%
Tre Campbell PG 6.2 2.0 1.7 111.3 15% 54%
Marcus Derrickson PF 6.0 3.9 0.5 100.0 19% 46%

Projected conference race

conference rank team projected Conf. record last year's Conf. record
1 Villanova 14-4 16-2
2 Georgetown 12-6 12-6
3 Xavier 12-6 9-9
4 Butler 11-7 12-6
5 Marquette 10-8 4-14
6 Providence 7-11 11-7
7 Seton Hall 7-11 6-12
8 Creighton 7-11 4-14
9 St. John's 5-13 10-8
10 DePaul 5-13 6-12

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