The Blog Squad

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Staying in School is Cool

When center Roy Hibbert and forward Jeff Green led the Georgetown Hoyas to the 2007 Men’s Basketball Final Four, the program catapulted back into national prominence. And just like a stock, the pair’s NBA value reached a delicious peak.

Both declared for the professional draft and both were projected as lottery picks. But only Green kept his name in the hat, eventually getting picked No. 5 overall by the Boston Celtics before being traded to the Seattle Sonics in a multiplayer deal that involved Ray Allen. That move helped the Celtics capture their first championship in years.

Hibbert had a change of heart. He decided it was much more important to carry on the Georgetown big man tradition of playing four years in college much like Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo. He said, “I feel like I have unfinished business here.”

He also stayed to earn his degree. Hibbert enjoyed academics and was a bright student. He started at the Hilltop at age 16 after attending Georgetown Prep.

Unfortunately, on the court, the Hoyas and Hibbert didn’t fare better than the previous season. Georgetown was bounced in the second round of the NCAA tournament and Hibbert struggled slightly as the main focus of the team.

Now the big man, he’s 7-foot-2, is projected as a late first-round pick.

How much money did he lose by coming back?

The No. 5 pick this year is expected to earn a rookie salary of more than $3.1 million a year. The No. 10 selection will deposit $2.1 million annually. In some mock drafts, Hibbert is slated to be picked by the Utah Jazz at No. 23. That slot’s salary is $1.1 million. The draft is Thursday night in Madison Square Garden.

So it’s not a stretch to presume that Hibbert lost at least $1 million per year by staying in school. Typically, rookies sign two-year contracts with the club option for the third and fourth years. So potentially, Hibbert’s deficit could be more than $4 million.

You and I look at that figure and cringe. Maybe Hibbert is doing the same thing. But as a follower of the Hoyas — my dad is a graduate of the School of Foreign Service — I can tell you that the way Big Roy thinks and lives is an inspiration.

When he entered Georgetown, he was an awkward, stone-handed goo of baby fat. He worked extremely hard — on footwork, passing, offensive post moves, stamina and shot blocking — to become one of the best collegiate big men in the country. Ask any fan of the team, and that person will tell you Hibbert improved each season.

He also appeared to enjoy his life at Georgetown. Students who knew him, even casually, wrote on the message board of about how easygoing and approachable he was on campus. He was a college kid. One of them. No pretenses.

He will transfer these characteristics to the NBA. It might take him a couple of years to figure it out, but believe me, he will become one of the best post players. He will earn that distinction at practice every day.

It is my sincere hope that Hibbert finds great success in the NBA — not only for him and his family but for the rest of us as well. I truly believe that Roy, with massive wealth behind him, can impact our country in so many positive ways. Maybe we’ll never hear of his contributions. But he will make a difference in many lives.

For most people, staying in school would have been a mistake. But for Roy, who loved every second of his collegiate experience, it was another memorable year that nobody can ever take away. Not even the NBA.

OUT AT HOME: Gonna take my first road trip with the new minivan. So excited! Sheesh. Did I really say that?

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: This video clip had me fooled.


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