By Dan Steinberg and Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, June 25, 2010; D05
NEW YORK -- From the moment Greg Monroe committed to Georgetown -- even before he played his first game at Verizon Center -- it appeared inevitable that the talented big man would one day walk across the stage of the Theater at Madison Square Garden and shake David Stern's hand as an NBA first-round pick.
The question was always how early in his career that would come -- and how early in the draft Monroe would go. The answer came Thursday when the Detroit Pistons selected the Georgetown sophomore with the No. 7 overall pick.
"I'm very grateful and it's been a long time coming," Monroe said.
Monroe became Georgetown's highest pick since Jeff Green went No. 5 in 2007. After producing draft picks in just two of eight seasons between 1999 and 2006, the Hoyas have now sent players to the NBA in each of the past four seasons.
"We've had kids who have listened, kids who have worked," Coach John Thompson III said by telephone from New York. Among those players in the NBA is former Georgetown swingman DaJuan Summers, who was Detroit's second-round pick in 2009 and could again share a locker room with Monroe.
"I talked to him recently and the last couple of months," Monroe said, "but he just texted me, told me, 'welcome,' and I will talk to him more obviously."
The most heralded recruit to commit to Thompson spent two seasons with the Hoyas, averaging 16.1 points and 9.6 rebounds during his sophomore year. He never advanced past the first round of the NCAA tournament, but he was at times dominant -- including 29 points and 16 points in a Jan. 17 loss to Villanova -- while fitting within Georgetown's offense.
He tried to build strength since the Hoyas' NCAA tournament loss to Ohio, revealing that he was "eating a little more steaks." In fact, Thompson was waiting for Monroe more than an hour after Monroe was selected to eat a steak dinner.
The feast will begin the celebration before Monroe's work begins. He must transition to an offense different from the Princeton-style system that Thompson installed at Georgetown. Monroe acknowledged the change was going to be an adjustment, and it came up in his pre-draft interview with Detroit's front-office personnel.
"They were asking me about Princeton and my family and the things they liked about me," Monroe said, "and of course the concerns defensively and my athleticism. But they liked me enough to take me and I wanted to come in and work hard and make the pick worthwhile."
Thompson was at the draft with Monroe and expressed excitement for Monroe and his family. Monroe fell within his expected range, becoming the fifth big man selected after two guards led the draft. He did not need to wait long, although he did need to wait longer than some of his pre-draft competition.
"All along, this has been the range," Monroe said. "My name has been bumped around and this is right in the middle, so this is the range that I expected."
But Monroe has been in the public spotlight since he was a major prep prospect out of Louisiana, long before he even played in the Big East. He turned 20 years old on June 4, and what he did in two years for the Hoyas could just be a precursor for what is to come with the Pistons.
"There's no doubt about that," Thompson said. "He's going to continue to better, continue to get stronger. His best ball is definitely ahead of him."