Leading up to and after the NBA Draft, CSNwashington spoke with several of the local college basketball coaches for their take on certain prospects, but also to discuss the upcoming 2013-14 season. Over the next few days, we'll roll out a series of articles and Q&A's, starting with George Mason head coach Paul Hewitt on topics including incoming transfer Julian Royal, Patrick Holloway/backcourt depth and the Patriots' strength of schedule compared with other A-10 programs.
[Previously, we caught up with Georgetown's John Thompson III on adjusting without Otto Porter and Greg Whittington and the Hoyas' possible starting lineup.]
- One of your former recruits at Georgia Tech, Julian Royal, is now one of your new players at George Mason. What led to him leaving the ACC program and why did you bring him to Mason?
Paul Hewitt: "I think he's a guy that feels like he has something to prove, which is always great when you have a kid that's motivated. I can't really say why he didn't play [at Georgia Tech]. Obviously they had their reasons. Sometimes its good to change. Julian felt like he needed to make a change. We're very thankful that he chose George Mason. He's a skilled player and he's got great size. We're looking forward to working with him. We've got a year to kind of get him back to where he's going to be in tip-top physical condition and have his game be as sharp as it can be.
"As far as why I like having him, I've known him, I've known him since the ninth grade. He's highly motivated right now. (You recruited him in ninth grade?) " He actually came to a game in the middle of his ninth grade year, that's how I met him"
- Julian must sit out the upcoming season. By the time he's is eligible, Johnny Williams and Jonathan Arledge will have graduated. Even though it's a season away, how do you see Julian fitting in with the roster at that point?
Hewitt: "Losing both Johnny and Jon Arledge, two frontcourt players that can score, [Julian] has an opportunity to come in here and provide some offense for us. The strength of his game is his ability to score. He can shoot the ball from three, he's pretty good off the dribble and he's good back to the basket. Most importantly, he's a good free throw shooter."
- One new player you will have for the upcoming season is Marquise Moore. What's the scouting report on the incoming freshman point guard?
Hewitt: "He's a penetrator; he can get to the lane pretty effectively. He's a great athlete - his dad played at Creighton back in the day. A great defender, he's going to have to work on his outside shot."
- This year's roster includes guards Corey Edwards, Bryon Allen, Patrick Holloway and of course Sherrod Wright. Where does Moore fit in and how does he help?
Hewitt: "The way he helps is Bryon Allen during the second half of the year was clearly one of our better players, if not our best player. Moving him off the ball, putting him on the wing kind of opened up a whole new world for him. So now we don't have to worry about Bryon at all at the point. We feel like Marquise can come in and back up Corey and play minutes so we don't have to play Bryon at the backup point guard position, just got to let him play his natural position off the wing."
- Patrick Holloway is a fan favorite in part because he's a very skilled perimeter shooter, yet he's slight. Considering those other guard options, could it be challenging at times to find as many minutes for him as others perhaps think he should receive?
Hewitt: "I think Patrick will play more. During the CBI Tournament and the latter part of the year, Patrick started playing more and more minutes. I think he'll get playing time."
- Because of their shooting range and a certain physical resemblance, Holloway is, at least loosely, at times compared to Steph Curry. Not in terms of NBA potential, but is there anything to that?
Hewitt: "Steph Curry is about 6-foot-4 (editor note - Holloway is listed at 6-foot-1). Patrick has a chance to be a special shooter. The other thing I love about Patrick, he's not just a 3-point shooter. He's good off the dribble, can shoot runners. He's got a lot of different ways to get the ball into the basket. If I had to compare him to somebody - he's not a point guard -, but Patrick has a little Steve Nash in him in that he can make a three but then go off the dribble, hit some floaters, runners, do some unorthodox things to get the ball in the basket."
- Two players (Vertrail Vaughns, Paris Bennett) left the program after this season. I remember once or twice last season you making reference to having so many guys on the team. That perhaps to a fault you wanted to play them all, perhaps too many. Do these exits in some way perhaps help the team because now there could be a tighter rotation?
Hewitt: "We'll see. In both of those cases, those guys graduated and with the rule the NCAA has in place, they exercised their right to look for a different place. They're really good guys."
- Heading into the first year with a new conference, what's your sense of the Atlantic 10 next season - assuming nobody else leaves?
Hewitt: (Laughing) "That's a great question, assuming no one leaves. It's a very good league and I'm very happy that we made the decision to join the Atlantic 10. It's a league that obviously is better than the CAA, it's a step up in competition. At the same time, I think that's what our players want. They want to be in a position where they can play against better competition. St. Joe's, VCU. LaSalle went to the Sweet 16 last year. UMass is supposed to be very good next year. It's a very competitive league, more competitive league than the CAA. We'll see how we match up to the challenge."
- Lastly, the schedule. You're playing Oklahoma in the BB&T, host South Florida, plus there is the Diamond Head Classic Tournament in Hawaii around Christmas. How do you feel about your non-conference schedule?
Hewitt: "We want to play a tough non-conference schedule so we can make ourselves a team that if we're in contention for a bid people will say, 'hey, at least they didn't duck anyone. They played tough teams, which makes them worthy of the NCAA Tournament.' That's what we're trying to do and I think we've accomplished that. We're going to play a tough schedule. One of the things I learned down at the A-10 meetings is that our non-conference schedule last year was the toughest compared to the A-10 schools. We're going to try and do that again. Hopefully, we won't lose a buzzer-beater like we did against New Mexico which really flipped our season upside down for a couple of weeks."
Next up: Virginia Tech's James Johnson