Any Hoya that has read the press coverage of Roy Hibbert's try outs for the US's Pan American Games team can't help but feel proud. We talked a lot last season at the image that the Hoyas portray under JTIII. The team always looked and acted professionally. In doing so they reflected extremely well on University. I mean, look at the way Jeff Green conducted himself in the days leading up to the NBA draft. He was the only player who regularly wore a suit and tie to meetings with the various teams. And The VBB weren't the only ones that noticed. Both the mainstream media and NBA execs noted this. This is definitely different than the image that Georgetown basketball put forth during its hey day in the 1980s.
Then there is Roy. Roy has gone above and beyond. Not only does he act professionally, but he has shown that a big time player in a big time program can actually love college! It's sad that this seems so shocking, but it is. We live in a day and age where college sports are little more than a minor league for future professional athletes. You almost never hear student-athletes talk about the "student" side of their title--especially not as it pertains to academics. You definitely don't expect them to cite their love of being a student as a reason for delaying a lucrative pro career. But that is exactly what Roy Hibbert has said.
Andy Katz of ESPN.com is the latest to write on this subject. His comments reflect my own sentiments exactly.
"I like school," said Hibbert before making the final Pan Am roster. "I'm a government major and have a lot of fun classes. It's easy to go to school, and it would be different if I didn't like school. But it's real fun." . . .
I'm sure there are plenty of cynics out there wondering why that would be newsy, but highly ranked prospects don't usually cite their enthusiasm for education among the reasons they wanted to return to college. That's just a fact gleaned from talking to college players for nearly two decades.
It's these types of comments that make Roy's decision so much different than the decision that the Florida players made last year. Their decision was all about basketball. They wanted to show that they could win it all again. Don't get me wrong, I think they also liked the college experience. Anyone who heard Noah's incoherent ramble after winning this year's national championship could tell that the kid has been having a good time in Gainesville. But I don't think it was the academics that he like the best. I don't remember hearing any of those guys talk about how much they liked class.
Now, let's not be naive about Roy's motivations. I know that he wants to try to win a national championship (though he had to know that his chances of making that happen are much lower now that Jeff Green is a Supersonic). I also know that he wants to improve his draft stock. Still, it is clear that his decision was about more than making himself into a top 5 pick.
And I couldn't be prouder because of it.