Big men are a Hoyas tradition, but a versatile guard could be the key to a Final Four return
For a class he took this summer on working-class literature, senior guard Jonathan Wallace was instructed to pay attention to everyday people -- the ones who aren't, like him, campus celebrities. When it came time to write a paper, Wallace chose to focus on the team's maintenance staff because, he says, "they're the ones who get here at five in the morning, mop the floor, make sure the temperature's right and everything's prepared for practice."
An appreciation for necessary, blue-collar contributions is a big part of the reason why Wallace has gone from unheralded freshman to Wooden Award candidate. "He's made this team go," says coach John Thompson III. "There are not too many people who can do the things he can do, like managing the game and putting the ball in the basket. Under the radar, over the radar, he's a terrific player."
The student-body president and a National Honor Society member at Sparkman High in Huntsville, Ala., Wallace originally intended to play for Thompson at Princeton. But when the coach took the Georgetown job, Wallace decided to follow him, even though he had to do so as a walk-on. Wallace ended up starting from Day One and was rewarded with a full scholarship in his second semester.
Often the Hoyas' primary ball handler last year, Wallace will cede that role to junior Jessie Sapp and sophomore Jeremiah Rivers. (Freshmen Austin Freeman and Chris Wright, both McDonald's All-Americans, will contribute in the backcourt as well.) Thompson wants to open up scoring opportunities for Wallace, whose average has increased each of his first three years. Improved guard play should also relieve pressure on 7' 2" senior center Roy Hibbert and help make up for the loss of forward Jeff Green, last season's Big East Player of the Year and a first-round pick of the Seattle SuperSonics.
Georgetown made it to the Final Four last season, its first appearance in 22 years, losing to Ohio State in the semis. Now the Hoyas are ready to go back. "Last year was special," says Thompson, "[but] every year we throw out last season and forget about it. It's time to start all over again." In other words, back to work. -- Ted Keith
Issue date: November 19, 2007