Hoyas: Injured Greg Whittington's what if scenario

Hoyas: Injured Greg Whittington's what if scenario
October 2, 2013, 12:45 pm
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(Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

On Tuesday came a report that quoted Georgetown coach John Thompson III as saying, "We're preparing as if Greg (Whittington) will not play" this season.

Whew, glad we got that cleared up.

For those that don't recall, Whittington, the Hoyas' top returning frontcourt option, suffered a torn left ACL in June.  With a standard recovery time following surgery of 9-12 months, the earliest the lengthy 6-foot-8 forward could realistically return to action is in March. Again, that's the earliest.

Locals should ignore the Robert Griffin III accelerated timeframe for comparison, but rather look at other basketball players.

Former University of Kentucky center Nerlens Noel suffered a torn ACL in February. The NBA rookie isn't projected to play games for the Philadelphia 76ers until December. After his knee injury during the 2012 NBA playoffs, Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose sat out the entire 2012-13 season.

"Greg will return when he is 100 percent healthy,” Thompson III said in a statement released by the school at the time of Whittington's injury. Later that month, the coach didn't sound like someone expecting his team's top defender back any time soon.

By the way, "preparing" to play the season without Whittington isn't the same as saying he's 100 percent out, even if the recovery math screams, "oh yes he is."

So, let's play this out. What if Whittington's recovery track sped along at such a rapid pace that he could return in March. Would it be madness to burn one of the junior's two remaining seasons for perhaps no more than a handful of games even if some were in the NCAA Tournament? CSNwashington asked this question of Thompson during a recent interview.

"I don't know," Thompson said with a tone of a coach actually uncertain of the answer rather than being dismissive of the inquiry. "I think that's something if we get to that bridge - and we might not get to that bridge. He might not be healthy and ready to go this year. We'll set down collectively when that time comes."

Obviously, that's not what one would call a definitive answer. Can't imagine anybody would expect one out of the cagey coach or for him to provide one especially since the scenario is both hypothetical and several months away. Then again, it's hard imagining anyone thinking Whittington would likely play this season or if they did then not ponder the scenario if he did.

Before an academic suspension wiped out Whittington's season after 13 games, he ranked second on the team in scoring and rebounding behind Otto Porter. Multiple sources place a healthy Whittington's pro potential higher than Porter's, who the Wizards selected with the third overall pick this year. No doubt a healthy Whittington would help any kind of final season push if wanted to push the situation. Georgetown lacks proven frontcourt scoring entering this campaign.

Not that he was actually looking for help with the what-if scenario, but during the discussion, Thompson asked for suggestions. Here's one: even if a standout player is given medical clearance, don't waste an entire season for a short burst of games, postseason or otherwise. If the Hoyas have the look of a Final Four team, get back to me.

It would be 14 months since Whittington's last game before the January suspension. By the time he kicks off the first layer of rust, the season could be kaput.

The caveat? If it became obvious the player wouldn't stick around for each of the two remaining seasons. Considering Whittington's NBA potential (which remains largely untapped) and the fact he would have already missed lots of game action due to the suspension and injury, the declaring early for the draft angle doesn't seem farfetched after completing a full season in a leading man role.

You know what appears farfetched? Of course you do...