Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Hibbert Ready for NBA?

The secret's out, but will Hibbert go?

Gregg Doyel Jan. 25, 2006
By Gregg Doyel
CBS Senior Writer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- An NBA scout warned me not to write this. Another NBA scout gave the same advice. As for Georgetown coach John Thompson III, well, he'd prefer not to see this written either.

Sorry. No can do, gentlemen. This needs to be said, and it needs to be said large -- 7-foot-2, 283-pound large: Georgetown sophomore Roy Hibbert has NBA written all over him.

When it comes to Hibbert and the NBA, it's not if, but when he decides to go. (AP)

He doesn't necessarily have NBA star written all over him, at least not yet. Not if he were to enter the 2006 draft after this season at Georgetown, where he is averaging 11.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 21.8 minutes.

But Hibbert's an NBA player right now. Or at least, he's an NBA Draft pick. He's a spot on an NBA roster. Which means he's a walking millionaire, if he wants to be.

Which he doesn't want. Not yet.

"My parents sent me to Georgetown to make sure I get an education," Hibbert said. "So I'm staying for all four years to get my degree."

Agents will still call. Scouts will still hover, even if the two who spoke to CBS don't seem enamored with Hibbert's game. Hibbert's gait and reaction time are rough on the eyes, but it's hard not to stare all the same. He looks every bit of his official height and weight, and frankly he looks taller than 7-2. Hibbert spent most of No. 21 Georgetown's 85-82 victory Tuesday night against Notre Dame guarding and being guarded by Torin Francis. He was bigger than Francis by nearly a head. Next to Hibbert, Francis looked like a small forward. And Francis is 6-11, 252 pounds.

There is nobody in college basketball -- and very few in the NBA, or beyond -- as big as Hibbert. That makes him a commodity. J.J. Redick has an NBA jump shot. Rudy Gay has NBA athletic ability. Roy Hibbert? He has NBA size.

And at times, Hibbert shows NBA skills. He might show them more often if he was in a system that showcased a low-post big man. Georgetown's system does not. The Hoyas run the system Thompson learned and coached at Princeton, and while it's pretty to watch -- lots of cutting and passing, not a lot of dribbling -- it's not the ideal system for Hibbert.

Many of Hibbert's possessions were spent at the foul line, where his only job was reversing the ball from one side of the court to the other. Most of the time, Georgetown ran 30 seconds of clock before taking a shot, with Hibbert never getting within 15 feet of the basket. This is not a complaint about the Georgetown offense -- the Hoyas are 13-4, with a win against then-No. 1 Duke -- but it's factual that Hibbert isn't getting many touches in scoring position.

Still, Hibbert had enough touches Tuesday to score 18 points. He grabbed 13 rebounds. He showed NBA flashes. There was his one-dribble move from the foul line, when he picked up the ball and held it high over his head like a steak platter, took one long step and then flicked home a 5-footer. There was his pick-and-roll with Jeff Green, when he slid to the goal, caught the pass, pivoted halfway -- then pivoted the rest of the way -- before dunking.

There were other moments, too. While Hibbert is a terrific shooter from the foul line (78.5 percent) and is hitting 59.2 percent from the floor, his only reliable move from the field is a dunk. In one possession he had his shot blocked by 6-9 Irish forward Rob Kurz, rebounded and missed, then rebounded and missed again before being fouled. Most players would have screamed in frustration or anger or even triumph, but Hibbert averted his eyes, looking embarrassed, as if he knew he should have scored there.

And he's right. An NBA player would have scored there. Like we said, Hibbert's not ready for the NBA. But he'll be in the NBA whenever he wants to go. Note that we didn't say ready to go. Hibbert isn't ready to play in the NBA, but when you're 7-2, 283 pounds, readiness isn't the issue. Upside is the issue, and Hibbert has an enormous upside for three reasons:

He's huge: Hibbert isn't as agile as previous first-round reaches such as Andrew Bynum (taken in the 2005 NBA Draft), Robert Swift (2004), Darko Milicic (2003), Nikoloz Tskitishvili (2002) or DeSagana Diop (2001). But he's bigger than all of them. And he can't be a worse project than all of them. And all of those guys were lottery picks.

He's raw: Hibbert has played little more than three years of organized basketball. His sophomore year of high school was gutted by a broken foot on the first day of practice, and when he broke the foot again the following summer, his junior year was compromised. It wasn't until his senior season at Georgetown Prep, when he averaged 19 points and 17 rebounds, did Hibbert finally get to play unimpeded. The Hoyas had hoped to redshirt Hibbert last season, but it was not to be. He averaged 5.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 15.8 minutes.

He's young: Hibbert is 19, and just barely at that. He won't be 20 until December 2006. How enticing would it be for an NBA team to be able to draft a 7-2, 283-pound center who has played two seasons in the Big East ... and is just 19? Ten teams would pass him up in the first round. Maybe 20. But all 30? No possible way. This is the league that has devoted first-round picks to Ian Mahinmi, Rafael Araujo, Dorell Wright and Sasha Vujacic -- all since last season. Someone would take huge, raw and young Roy Hibbert this year.

But only if huge, raw and young Roy Hibbert wants to be taken.

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