Georgetown's Whittington tears ACL
Updated 5:45 p.m.
Georgetown forward Greg Whittington tore the ACL in his left knee, a Georgetown University spokesman confirmed to CSNwashington on Tuesday.
Last month CSNwashington reported exclusively that Whittington would play for the Hoyas in 2013-14 after missing the final 19 games last season because of academic ineligibility.
"Greg will return when he is 100 percent healthy,” Hoyas coach John Thompson III said in a statement released by the school. “I feel for Greg because he’s worked extremely hard to prepare for the coming season, on and off the court. I’m confident this is just another setback that in the end will make him even stronger. At this point, there is no specific timetable for his return.”
Reports surfaced overnight about the versatile 6-foot-8 Whittington potentially suffering a significant knee injury earlier this month. A source outside the Georgetown program confirmed with CSNwashington.com Tuesday morning that the injury occurred, though they did not have first-hand knowledge of the medical report. CasualHoya.com reported Monday night that Whittington has been seen recently on crutches and ESPN.com also reported about Whittington's injury on Monday.
In 13 games last season, Whittington averaged 12.1 points and 7.0 rebounds, ranking second on the team in both categories behind fellow sophomore Otto Porter Jr. The Columbia native's final game was the decisive 73-45 home loss to Pittsburgh, which dropped the Hoyas to 0-2 in the Big East standings.
With Porter playing at a level that would later earn him Big East Player of the Year and All-American honors, the Hoyas rebounded to win 14 of their final regular season games, share a piece of the Big East regular season title and earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Though he continued practicing with the team, Whittington, the team's top defender, could only watch the remaining games, often from the Hoyas bench.
"I think Greg grew up a lot this year, a hell of a lot." Thompson told CSNwashington last month. "It was painful for him...He's made strides, not just in the classroom, but who he is. He's growing up."
Porter entered the NBA Draft following the season and is a projected top-5 selection in the June 27 draft. Before the injury, Thompson hoped that Whittington's growth would give him a legitimate chance at replacing Porter in the Hoyas lineup. With his capabilities as a scorer, defender and ball handler, Whittington arguably outpaced his classmate in upside.
With Whittington's expected reutrn and the Hoyas returning all of the main rotation options besides Porter, Georgetown was considered one of if not the favorite in the new-look Big East for the upcoming season. Without him, the Hoyas still sport enough talent to contend with Marquette, Saint John's and Villanova atop the conference standings, but they will do so with significant frontcourt uncertainty.
Big men Nate Lubick and Mikael Hopkins started throughout last season, though neither are major contributors offensively. Without Whittington, the primary small forward options include athletic swingman Aaron Bowen; Stephen Domingo, a highly-touted recruit who played little as a freshman; and incoming freshman Reggie Cameron. Other frontcourt options include center Moses Ayegba, a key reserve last season, and 6-foot-11 rising sophomore Bradley Hayes.
The Hoyas are still waiting to learn whether former UCLA transfer Josh Smith will be eligible for all or only part of the 2013-14 season. Smith, who transferred from UCLA after playing six games as a junior in part because of weight issues, averaged 10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds as a freshman. Early in his college career he was considered a legitimate first-round prospect, though his numbers dropped as a sophomore and even further as a junior to 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds.
Markel Starks, Georgetown's leading returning scorer and third team All-Big East selection last season, headlines the backcourt which includes point-producer D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and defensive leader Jabril Trawick. That trio will carry the Hoyas next season while Thompson sorts out his forward and center options.
There is no doubt that losing Whittington is a significant blow to the Hoyas chances, especially nationally. Former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. once said that Whittington skill set could set him apart from even the most hallowed defenders that came through the program. His length made him a significant threat around the rim and Whittington had range out to the college 3-point line.
Of course, several times since Thompson took over the Hoyas program, his teams were initially overlooked only to exceed regular season expectations, enter the national rankings and earn a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Of course since reaching the 2007 Final Four, Georgetown has been on the wrong end of March Madness.
With Porter headed to the NBA and Whittington at least headed to physical therapy for a while, Thompson and his squad figure to be, at least on the national scene, in that overlooked position yet again.