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

By Liz Clarke
Saturday, April 17, 2010; 11:56 AM

Georgetown's sophomore center Greg Monroe intends to declare himself eligible for the 2010 NBA draft, the player confirmed Saturday, bringing to an end his star turn for the Hoyas after two seasons.

The move comes roughly one month after the Hoyas' promising season ended with a stunning first-round loss to 14th-seeded Ohio in last month's NCAA tournament.

Asked in the immediate aftermath whether it was his last game for Georgetown, Monroe said it was not. But after time to reflect to and evaluate his options, the 6-11, 247-pound center, widely considered an NBA lottery pick, decided otherwise.

The NBA draft is scheduled for June 24 at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Monroe becomes the third Hoya 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.

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

Because Monroe plans to sign with an agent, he won't be able to return to the Hoyas if he changes his mind. Underclassmen who declare for the draft before the April 25 deadline have until May 8 to reconsider and regain their college eligibility, provided they haven't signed.

Monroe's departure will drop Georgetown from a favorite for the Big East title next season to a middle-of-the-pack contender. It will also heighten the pressure on the Hoyas' incoming big men to perform well and quickly -- 6-8 Nate Lubick of St. Mark's School in Massachusetts, who has signed a letter of intent, and Moses Abraham, a 6-9, 235 pound center who plays at the Progressive Christian Academy in Temple Hills, who has made an oral commitment.

Monroe started 65 consecutive games for Georgetown but leaves the Hilltop never having won an NCAA tournament game. He also leaves a more complete player and more assertive one (his selflessness and passivity being the chief rap against him), 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 NIT. He was honored as the Big East rookie of the year, nonetheless, having averaged 12.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Monroe improved his stat line this year, averaging 16.1 points and 9.6 rebounds for the resurgent Hoyas (23-11). Along the way, he managed 13 double-doubles and was named to the first team all-Big East Squad.

But the postseason was more short-lived than expected, with Georgetown, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest region, trounced by 14th-seed Ohio, 97-83, in the NCAA's first round. Apart from junior guard Chris Wright, no Hoya distinguished himself in that game, including Monroe, who scored 19 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, dished out six assists but accounted for seven of the Hoyas' 18 turnovers.

Still, Monroe couldn't have had a more impressive NBA audition than the one he staged the previous week in Georgetown's three-victories-in-three-days sprint to the championship game of the Big East tournament. Monroe had double-doubles in victories over Syracuse and Marquette. Along with Wright, he was named to the Big East's all-Tournament team. On balance, it was an erratic season for the Hoyas, with resounding victories over Duke and Syracuse and inexplicable losses to Rutgers and South Florida before being humiliated by Ohio.

Through the highs and lows, NBA scouts were on hand charting Monroe's every move and decision.

His upside is unmistakable. Projected as a power forward in the NBA, Monroe has good shooting range and a comfort level at all points on the court. He is an uncommonly gifted passer for a big man, blessed with keen vision, sharp anticipatory skills and rare selflessness. And he's a sound decision maker with an intuitive feel for the game -- assets that many believe cannot be taught.

But observers agree Monroe has work to do if he's to hold his own in the NBA. He can be out-muscled under basket and needs to find a way to bulk up without losing quickness. He can be selfless to a fault. And he can be less than intense on defense.

Nearly all NBA draft prognosticators have penciled in Monroe as a Lottery Pick, taken among the firs 14 players in the first round. ESPN's Chad Ford projects Monroe as the ninth overall pick and the third power forward likely to be drafting, behind Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors and North Carolina's Ed Davis.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company