In Tuesday’s win at Rhode Island, George Washington men’s basketball coach Mike Lonergan started a lineup that featured four freshmen and senior transfer Isaiah Armwood (Montrose Christian). Three of the freshmen — Landon’s Joe McDonald, Episcopal’s Kethan Savage and Montrose Christian’s Kevin Larsen — played at area high schools last winter, part of Lonergan’s push to tap the burgeoning local talent pool.
The newcomers have made an immediate impact, giving hopes for a bright future in Foggy Bottom, but Lonergan’s 2012 class lacked an elite outside shooter. The Colonials rank last in the Atlantic 10 in three-pointers made (56) and second-to-last in three-point percentage (29.9 percent), and Lonergan believes Magruder senior Nick Griffin can help.
As detailed in Friday’s paper, Griffin has become one of the area’s top three-point marksmen through hard work, overhauling his jump shot after a freshman season in which he attempted just one three.
Holy Cross was the first Division I school to offer the 6-foot-2 guard a scholarship, but Lonergan made sure George Washington was in the mix from the beginning, as well.
Griffin, who has hit 44 percent from three-point range for his career, picked the Colonials over Drexel and William & Mary in August and made it official in November during the early signing period.
Though Griffin will need to get stronger and improve his ball-handling and defense at the next level, Lonergan said he believes Griffin could’ve earned minutes with the Colonials this year because of his shooting prowess.
“When he shoots it, the ball barely hits the net,” Lonergan said. “If he’s open, you just feel like it’s going to go in.”
As of now, Riverdale Baptist guard Nigel Johnson is the only other player committed to join GW next year. The Broad Run transfer should aid the shooting efforts, too, as he’s hit 49 three-pointers this season in 21 games for the 15th-ranked Crusaders. (Johnson has not signed yet, so Lonergan can’t comment on his addition until then.)
Griffin was happy to join the youth movement. In pledging to George Washington, he said he found a fit, athletically and academically. He plans to major in sports management. The location helped, too.
“I want to see my all my friends, my coaches like Coach Harwood and my teammates in the stands,” Griffin said. “I have a lot of family in the DMV. It was important that they be able to come see me play.”