The Big East preseason basketball player of the year headlines a stellar Georgetown team that is one of the favorites in the Charleston Classic that will be played Thursday, Friday and Sunday at the College of Charleston's Carolina First Arena.
Georgetown is one of two teams in the field to own an NCAA championship. The Hoyas won the title in 1984 and have reached the Final Four five times. N.C. State, the 1983 national champion, is also in the Charleston Classic.
Austin Freeman, a 6-3 senior guard who averaged 16.5 points last season in leading the Hoyas to the Big East tournament championship game and into the NCAA tournament, heads a highly respected Georgetown team that is currently ranked No. 20. The Hoyas were picked to finish fourth in the Big East.
Georgetown squeaked out a road win at Old Dominion, 62-59, in its season opener and then downed Tulane (coached by former Citadel coach Ed Conroy) on Monday, 69-53.
Georgetown coach John Thompson III, who played for Pete Carill at Princeton, likes to run the style of offense he played in college. The Hoyas focus on movement without the ball and a lot of back-door cuts, but they are not afraid to fire it up from outside as they did against Tulane, hitting 12 of 29 3-point shots.
"There was a stretch where I thought we were taking too many 3-pointers, but I think Tulane made a concerted effort that that was what they were going to give us," Thomson said. "They clogged everything up ... and just said we're going to let you take shots and see if you can make them.
"I'm comfortable with that because I think we have guys that can make them. But in a perfect world we get more of a mix."
Georgetown isn't a one-man show. Joining Freeman in the backcourt are 6-1 senior guard Chris Wright, who averaged 15.2 points last season, and 6-2 junior guard Jason Clark, who averaged 10.5 points last year. Wright is a preseason second All-Big East pick. Rounding out the starting five are 6-7 sophomore forward Hollis Thompson and 6-10 senior center Henry Sims.
The Hoyas should be even stronger in mid-December when 6-8 freshman Moses Ayegba becomes eligible. Ayegba was declared ineligible by the NCAA because someone who was not a member of his immediate family paid for a ticket to bring the player from his home in Nigeria to the United States before the Hoyas began recruiting him.
--The Charleston Classic is classified by the NCAA as an "exempt tournament," meaning schools can only participate in the same event once every four years. The Cougars played in the inaugural event and will not be eligible to play in the Charleston Classic again until 2012. Charleston played in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii last season and is participating in the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer this season. Next year, Charleston will be playing in the Cancun Governor's Cup.
WHEN: Thursday, Friday, Sunday
WHERE: Carolina First Arena TICKETS: Available at the door or at charlestonclassic.com. Tournament pass (12 games) is $90; single session (two games) is $20. Student ticket $5 for single sessions; teachers and school employees single session tickets are $10.
Noon - Coastal Carolina vs. Georgetown
2:30 p.m. - Upstate vs. Wofford
6 p.m. - East Carolina vs. N.C. State
8:30 p.m. - George Mason vs. Charlotte