Pupil, coach face Hoyas after exodus
On paper, Georgetown was a perfect suitor for Jerome Seagears, the Rutgers men’s basketball team’s freshman guard from Silver Spring, Md. But then David Cox left.
Cox, the Scarlet Knights’ associate head coach, arrived in Piscataway in 2010 as part of head coach Mike Rice’s staff. Cox recruited Seagears, so the move made sense.
But Seagears is still trying to figure it out.
“That’s where I wanted to go since I was a little kid,” Seagears said of Georgetown. “Cox was my main focus. Somehow he ended up in New Jersey, and I ended up here with him. I don’t know how that works.”
Seagears pays his first visit to No. 10 Georgetown (15-3, 5-2) tomorrow with the Knights (11-8, 3-3). He last played at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., last spring in a high school all-star game, but the stakes are higher.
Still, the Knights’ assists leader does not mind the sideshow involved with going home.
“There are going to be a lot of people,” Seagears said. “I told [Director of Player Development Eric Murdock], ‘I’m going to show you how you get real love when you go home.’ Because he doesn’t get any real love in Bridgewater anymore.”
The quick-witted Seagears trades barbs with teammates and coaches with ease. But Rice points to his maturation as a reason Seagears continues to find the ball in his hands.
“Offensively, he’s my best communicator,” Rice said of the 6-foot-1 guard. “He understands what I want. He’ll communicate to them. That’s a credit to him because he came from the bottom floor.”
Rice’s go-to presence on defense, Mike Poole, did not own an offer from Georgetown in high school. In fact, he waited until late in the spring recruiting season to commit.
But the sophomore guard owns Rice’s trust. He needs it against the Hoyas, whose Princeton-style attack demands preparation.
“For me to be the best communicator, I have to let guys know where they need to be, what’s going on at all times,” Poole said. “They depend on me out there to do that. Young guys have never played a Georgetown team, a real good team with a Princeton-style offense.”
On paper, the Hoyas are like the Knights.
Both teams receive contributions from at least five freshmen. Both teams lost their starting backcourts from last season to graduation. And both teams recruit along the Beltway through Virginia.
But Rice sees the impact veterans sprinkled throughout head coach John Thompson III’s roster, and there is a world of difference.
“They have a lot of freshmen. But they have [guard] Jason Clark, who’s a senior. They have [senior center Henry] Sims. They have seniors,” Rice said. “Their freshmen, they have some toughness to them. That’s the reason they’re top 10 in the country, but make no mistake — their team is their seniors.”
Seagears, Clark and Georgetown freshman Mikael Hopkins played for the same AAU program, Team Takeover, before Seagears joined D.C. Assault, where Cox once coached.
He also matched up with Sims and Hoyas sophomore point guard Markel Starks.
The reunion makes Rice anxious about Seagears’ response, which is almost always with uncontrolled energy. Cox saw it with the Assault and when Seagears handled point guard duties at Flora MacDonald Academy (N.C.).
On paper, Seagears continues to progress. His assist-to-turnover ratio, nearly 2-to-1 now, is a testament to it. But there is always another game to play.
“I worry about Jerome being overanxious every game. And now with the hometown fans, yes, that’s an extra concern,” Rice said. “Hopefully he has enough energy and keeps it bottled up.”