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Greg Monroe declares for NBA draft, leaves Georgetown after two seasons

By Liz Clarke
Sunday, April 18, 2010; D01

Characterizing himself as mentally and physically ready for the next step, Georgetown's Greg Monroe said Saturday that he'll declare himself eligible for the 2010 NBA draft, bringing to an end his star turn for the Hoyas after two seasons.

The decision comes one month after Georgetown's promising season ended with a stunning first-round loss to Ohio in the NCAA tournament. Asked immediately after that game whether it would be his last for Georgetown, Monroe said it was not. But after taking time to reflect and discuss his options with family members and Hoyas Coach John Thompson III, the 6-foot-11, 247-pound Monroe, who is widely considered an NBA lottery pick, decided otherwise.

"I'm a better player [after] working with these coaches for two years now," Monroe said in an on-campus interview Saturday. "Over a two-year span this is definitely the biggest strides I've made as a player. [But] wherever I'm taken [in the draft], I'm definitely going to be prepared to put in more work and do whatever I can for my team."

Because Monroe plans to hire an agent, he won't be able to return to Georgetown if he changes his mind.

Monroe is expected to join Wesley Johnson, the Big East player of the year from Syracuse; national player of the year Evan Turner of Ohio State; and Kentucky's John Wall in being among the top 10 players chosen.

"Where he goes is an inexact science," Thompson said Saturday. "But coupled with his desires and his family's desires and needs, he came to the conclusion and decided this was the right time for him to leave."

Monroe's departure likely will drop Georgetown from a favorite for next season's Big East title to merely a contender.

With Chris Wright and Austin Freeman returning for their senior years, along with the addition of 6-2 Markel Starks of Georgetown Prep, Georgetown could boast one of the best back courts in the country. But Monroe's absence will be felt. Among those tasked with shouldering the front-court load will be rising senior Julian Vaughn, rising sophomore Jerrelle Benimon and, ideally, the Hoyas' two incoming front-court recruits -- 6-8 Nate Lubick of St. Mark's School in Massachusetts and Moses Abraham, a 6-9, 235-pound center from Progressive Christian Academy who has given Georgetown an oral commitment.

"I'm not anticipating anyone replacing Greg in that regard," Thompson said. "I think we're going to have the experience and the bodies where there is going to be lot of competition, and there are going to be lot of different options for who's in the game with each other."

Monroe said he's continuing to attend classes while preparing for the June 24 draft and plans to return to complete his degree.

"I came to college to get a degree, I'm going to get my degree no matter what," he said.

Monroe started 65 consecutive games for Georgetown but leaves the Hilltop never having won an NCAA tournament game. He also leaves as a more complete and assertive player yet, at 19, a teenager in a man's body.

In Monroe's freshman year, Georgetown lost to Baylor in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament. He was named Big East rookie of the year, having averaged 12.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

As a sophomore he averaged 16.1 points and 9.6 rebounds for the resurgent Hoyas (23-11), managed 13 double-doubles and was named to the first-team all-Big East squad.

But the postseason was short lived, with Georgetown, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region, trounced by 14th-seed Ohio, 97-83, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

In the Big East tournament, Monroe couldn't have had a more impressive NBA audition. He had double-doubles in victories over Syracuse and Marquette en route to the championship game and, along with Wright, was named to the all-tournament team.

Projected as a power forward in the NBA, Monroe has good shooting range, is a gifted passer for a big man and is a sound decision-maker with an intuitive feel for the game -- assets that many believe cannot be taught.

"He realizes that he still has lot of room for growth," Thompson said. "That being said, I don't think there are too many people out there who are as good as he is and are able to contribute to the game in as many ways as he can. So we're excited for him, and we're going to look forward to watching him playing basketball for a long, long time."

Monroe becomes the third Georgetown player in the past four years to leave for the NBA before his eligibility expired. DaJuan Summers left after his junior season and was taken in the second round of the 2009 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. Jeff Green left after his junior year following the 2006-07 season and was chosen fifth overall.

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