Jon Browne went to bed early Sunday, weary from attending a St. Patrick's Day parade and seeking a good night's rest before another day of school at Oakland Mills.
When the Scorpions coach awoke to seven missed calls and several text messages, he thought, "what in the world happened last night?"
Browne quickly discovered what all the fuss was about. Greg Whittington, who led Oakland Mills to a 25-1 season, made an earlier-than-expected commitment, picking Georgetown over Clemson, DePaul, Maryland and Texas.
"I just realized that Georgetown was the best fit for me, so I might as well just commit now," Whittington said. "I'll be able to see the world at Georgetown, too."Said Browne: "I never thought in a million years he would commit on the visit without having gone anywhere and without sitting and weighing his options. Not in a million years would that happen. I was just as surprised as anyone. But at the end, I'm very, very happy for Greg and his family."
Whittington was an unknown prospect nationally before leading his Howard County-based AAU team – HCYP Elite – to a third-place finish at the AAU Nationals in Orlando last July. Clemson and Maryland were among the high-major programs that began to express interest in Whittington after his AAU performance, but it wasn't until this winter with Oakland Mills that the 6-foot-9, 210-pound senior became one of the most wanted recruits in the country.
HCYP Elite coach Bill Napolitano knew it was just a matter of time before high-major programs picked up their pursuit of Whittington.
"I think he's like a Kevin Durant-type player – a big kid who can shoot and handle the ball," Napolitano said. "He's athletic, he's quick and he's fast. He's not a big, slow, uncoordinated kid. He's kind of like a guard who kept growing, but stayed coordinated and skilled. I think he's the kind of kid that fits in anyone's program. A skilled 6-9 kid, it's a rare commodity."
While Browne had intended to accompany Whittington on visits to Clemson, DePaul and Texas, the Oakland Mills coach had some inkling that his star player harbored some desire to stay close to home. Maryland assistant coach Bino Ranson recruited Whittington harder than anyone, according to Browne. But save for attending a couple of Maryland games, Whittington never toured the College Park campus. "He was just not interested in going at all," Napolitano said.
Browne said Georgetown started recruiting Whittington later in the process, but Hoyas coach John Thompson III put the "full-court press" on him immediately, checking out several Oakland Mills games.
"It was a good feeling to know that there was a top-notch coach in the stands coming to watch me play," Whittington said. "Bringing the whole coaching staff to the basketball game, that really got them over the top."
Browne thinks Whittington's skill set makes him a good fit for just about any offensive system. The future Hoya's "basketball IQ is off the charts," and Browne expects him to realize his potential under Thompson's tutelage.
"X's and O's are never going to be a problem for Greg Whittington," Browne said. "There's no system he can't work in. I think Coach Thompson and his staff are going to do a wonderful job developing his talent. For a guy like Greg, the sky's the limit."