Georgetown Owes Some Thanks to Those No Longer There
When Georgetown takes the floor Saturday evening in the Georgia Dome for its Final Four semifinal game against Ohio State, two men who played a critical role in the Hoyas being back on college basketball's biggest stage will be watching . . . from several hundred miles away.
Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green, Georgetown's two most important players, signed letters-of-intent to play for Georgetown in November 2003. At the time, Craig Esherick was Georgetown's coach and Chuck Driesell was his No. 1 assistant. Saturday evening, Esherick and Driesell will be in their homes watching the game on television.
"In many ways, it's a good feeling to see how well they've done," Esherick said Friday afternoon. Now the vice president for athletic relations for CSTV, he was sitting in New York's JFK International Airport on Friday waiting to return to Washington while the Hoyas went through their Final Four practice session. "I'm happy for both of them because they're both good kids, and I feel good that my belief in them as players was proven to be correct."
Driesell, who joined Gary Williams's staff at Maryland this past season, was in Atlanta on Friday, in town for the coaches convention, but he flew home to spend the weekend with his children.
"I might have played some role in finalizing their recruitment," he said. "But the credit should go to Craig. He's the one who first spotted them and began recruiting them."
As often happens in recruiting, it was a tip from a friend that started Esherick down the path that led to Hibbert and Green becoming Hoyas. In the case of Hibbert, Esherick got a phone call from Dwayne Bryant, a former Georgetown player who had become the coach at Georgetown Prep.
Hibbert already was a Georgetown fan. He knew about the school's reputation for producing great big men. In the spring of his junior year, he orally committed to Georgetown.
But that wasn't the end of his recruiting story. At the end of that season, Esherick shook up his coaching staff. One of the changes involved the departure of Ronny Thompson, the younger of John Thompson's two sons. When Ronny Thompson left, Hibbert and his family no longer were certain Georgetown was the place for him. After Esherick hired Driesell, the two of them had to re-recruit him.
"I think we just treated it as if he was a kid we were trying to get to sign with us," Driesell said. "We went to his games that summer; he made a number of unofficial visits to campus and when November came around he ended up signing. The bottom line was that we got him to sign."
Someone with ties to Maryland first pointed Esherick in the direction of Green.
"I had played summer league ball in the '70s with a guy named John Bowie," he said. "We had stayed friends through the years. In the summer before Jeff's senior year, he called me to say there was a kid at Northwestern High School I need to see play. John's wife works there, so he knew about Jeff."