Greg Whittington wasn’t a high profile recruit in the class of 2011, especially when compared to the three top-100 recruits that Georgetown was welcoming that year – Otto Porter, Mikael Hopkins and Jabril Trawick – but that didn’t stop him from immediately capturing a meaningful role. He underwent some speed bumps as most freshmen do, but he was still effective enough to warrant 20 minutes of playing time per game. He played in all 33 games that year, averaging 4.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per contest. That doesn’t sound very impressive, but when you’re a freshman sharing the court with veterans such as Henry Sims, Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson in conjunction with being the lowest rated player in your team’s recruiting class, that’s not bad at all.
Which is why Coach John Thompson III was excited about the leap he expected Whittington to make last year. “Greg’s going to have a special year”, Thompson said. “We’re going to need him to play big and small. A lot of the times, he’s going to get the toughest defensive assignment.”
Greg’s sophomore year was sounding promising. But…
Unfortunately Whittington was only able to appear in Georgetown’s first 13 games before being suspended for the remainder of the season due to academic reasons. To that point Greg was averaging 35.2 minutes, 12.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game. That’s a decent little jump compared to the stats he had accumulated during his freshman campaign.
The Hoyas were 10-3 with Whittington in the lineup – their three losses came to Indiana in OT on a neutral court, Marquette away and Pittsburgh at home. Nothing to be ashamed of there. However, for some reason there were those that attributed Georgetown’s success (minus their embarrassing loss at South Florida) post Whittington’s suspension, to the fact that Whittington was missing from the lineup. The offense had better flow they would say, as the Hoyas rolled of 11 straight victories at one point against Big East opponents. But if anything, Whittington’s absence forced Porter to step-up into a bigger role, which proved to be very successful. However, the Hoyas averaged 63.6 points with Whittington in the lineup and 65.5 points without him. Less than two points. Nothing drastic. But you can make the argument that maybe Porter doesn’t have the All-American season he had. Either way, it would have been easier to evaluate Georgetown’s efficiency with and without Whittington, if he would have returned at some point.
The fact of the matter was Georgetown was a great defensive team that was prone to serious offensive droughts – both with and without Greg. They never scored less than 50 points without him (something they did four times with him in uniform – but miraculously broke even in those games), but they did lay an egg against lowly South Florida and also sputtered against Villanova late in the season and against Syracuse in the Big East Tournament. And we can’t forget to mention the Hoyas loss to 15-seed Florida Gulf Coast in the NCAA Tournament when Dunk City went all Dunk City on them. But that could have more to do with Georgetown’s recent unimpressive run in NCAA Tournament, a discussion for another day.
At the end of the day Georgetown had a rather successful year save postseason play. They were ranked in the top 5 at one point, earned a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament and were co-Big East champions. The Hoyas will enter the 2013-14 season with everyone except Porter, the Big East Player of the Year and first team All-American. But they will get Whittington back, a versatile player who can play inside and out, much like what Porter brought to the table last year. No one is expecting Greg to have the type of season that Otto just had, but he’ll fill the void admirably. But who knows, maybe he’ll have that special season that JT3 was calling for last year.