College-loving Hibbert prepares for last go-round with Georgetown Print
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Monday, 17 March 2008 13:24
NCAAB Headline News


 WASHINGTON (AP) -Roy Hibbert is really going to miss college life. If the NCAA offered a fifth year of eligibility, it's easy to get the feeling the Georgetown center would take it - and postpone the trappings of the NBA yet again.
Because when Hibbert does turn pro, he'll leave behind the late nights he and the rest of the Hoyas seniors spent in point guard Jonathan Wallace's room just talking. Gone will be the days when he can sit next to what he calls ``random people'' on campus and spontaneously start a conversation. He'll no longer get to take fascinating classes like his current favorite, black nationalism, for a degree in government that has him thinking about running for office someday.
And wherever he winds up in the NBA, it's doubtful Hibbert will be able to get together with Georgetown teammate Tyler Crawford for a game of Halo on Xbox.
``The two of us versus everybody else,'' Hibbert said. ``I wouldn't have been able to get that chance if I left to go to the NBA last year. That's one of the things I'll remember.''
In that sense, Hibbert is just like many college seniors who hate the thought of leaving the friends and familiarity of campus for the responsibilities of the working world. Unlike most of those kids, however, Hibbert is 7-foot-2 and could be making a hefty salary right now if he had followed former Georgetown teammate Jeff Green to the NBA last year.
``He's absorbing all of the college life,'' Wallace said. ``Everybody wants to go for the early money, but Roy saw the bigger picture. It's all about developing both athletically and academically. Roy takes a lot of pride in that.''
It's only recently begun to dawn on Hibbert that he is in his final days as a basketball player on the Hilltop. He and the Hoyas, the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Regional, will face Maryland-Baltimore County on Friday in the first game of his final NCAA tournament. The goal, of course, is to win the national championship, completing the task left undone last year when Georgetown reached the Final Four but lost to Ohio State.
``I want to get in as much time as I can with these guys before we have to depart, before basketball gets really serious and we have to talk about contracts and stuff,'' Hibbert said. ``Hopefully, we can go out with a bang.''
If college is about growing up, Hibbert has spent his four years well. He arrived as a stiff, awkward-looking freshman who, by his own admission, didn't think he would have to work very hard because he was so tall.
``I remember the first workouts of his freshman year, we had him out here just working on moving. 'Let's go from this end of the floor to that end of the floor and see if we can pick our feet off the ground,''' coach John Thompson III said.
``But he's grown up. He was a 17-year-old freshman that was unsure of himself on the floor, off the floor, that's been teased all his life,'' Thompson said. ``It's not like Roy came in the door with the same confidence, with the same swagger, with the same accolades that Patrick (Ewing), Alonzo (Mourning) and most of the other people in our league came in with. ... You've seen on the floor and off the floor his maturation and growth.''
Now it's time for Hibbert to lead the Hoyas toward an NCAA title, something that's easier said than done.
Green was the undisputed leader last season, a role that fit his personality, but Hibbert has a softer demeanor that can look out of place when the Hoyas need a spark. It's not that he is incapable of turning it on, but it might take a raging fire lit under him - like when he scored a season-high 25 points in last week's Big East tournament semifinals one day after foul trouble limited him to zero points in the quarterfinals.
``He's understanding and has a sense of what is necessary for us to win,'' Thompson said. ``At times that's to be more aggressive, more assertive than he is by nature.''
If Hibbert has trouble being assertive, he could be in trouble in the career he's eying for his post-basketball days. He'd love to dabble in politics - he's having a ball watching Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton battle for the 2008 Democratic nomination - and was nicknamed ``Governor'' by a teammate at last summer's Pan Am Games.
Hibbert has joked about running for president as a Democrat, with Alabama-native Wallace as his running mate so that they could carry the Southern states.
Lately, however, Hibbert has had a change of heart.
``I'm nice. Jon's a charming young chap,'' Hibbert said. ``I'll let him be at the top of the ticket. He can do all the work, and I'll just go to funerals.''
 

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