“Ewing Theory” posited a team could elevate its collective level of play with a star on the sidelines, thusly named for Patrick Ewing’s teams at Georgetown and with the New York Knicks. No statistical evidence backs the hypothesis, and the anecdotal evidence is flimsy at best — akin to a different kind of Ewing Theory the Hall of Fame center’s alma mater bought into when hiring Ewing last year.
Georgetown turned the reins over to Ewing in hope that the legendary Hoya could restore the former national powerhouse to its past glory, a peak reached in Ewing’s four years as the lead Destroya. His familiarity with the program and talent-rich, local recruiting pool and NBA coaching experience were attractive, but let’s be real: The name Patrick Ewing comes with clout that cannot be replicated, and Georgetown aimed to leverage that into recruiting wins.
Like the original Ewing Theory, it makes sense at surface level. However, hiring past program legends hasn’t in practice produced the desired results. The worst stretch in UCLA’s post-John Wooden history came during Wooden protege Walt Hazzard’s tenure as head coach. Iona parted ways with Jeff Ruland following a two-win season. Kevin Ollie won a national championship at UConn in the wake of Jim Calhoun’s retirement, but the program since endured a dip perilously close to pre-Calhoun levels of futility, precipitating Ollie’s firing this year.
The most recent example resides in Georgetown territory, the Big East, with former Ewing on-court rival Chris Mullin at St. John’s. Mullin is 38-60 in three seasons with his alma mater, having yet to make the NCAA Tournament. While injuries badly hindered the Johnnies this season, St. John’s isn’t exactly setting the recruiting trail on fire.
Noteworthy success stories do exist, though. The Mayor, Fred Hoiberg, returned to office in Ames and led Iowa State to greater heights as a coach than the Cyclones reached during his time as a player. Memphis is banking on a similar turnaround with Penny Hardaway. And with Patrick Ewing today adding NC State transfer Omer Yurtseven to the mix, Georgetown’s version of Ewing Theory may very well pay dividends in 2019.
Yurtseven entered 2017-18 an intriguing NBA prospect at 7-foot and 250 pounds. The Turkish import has shown off agile footwork, and the kind of skill set reminiscent of the centers of yesteryear — centers like Patrick Ewing. And Yurtseven’s transfer is a direct result of Ewing’s name recognition.
Omer Yurtseven to ESPN on why he chose to transfer to Georgetown: “I needed a big man coach and I don’t think anybody is better than Patrick Ewing when it comes to the experience he has as a player.”
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 16, 2018
Georgetown already has a pair of high-4-star prospects committed for 2018, with point guard James Akinjo and forward Josh LeBlanc. The addition of Yurtseven — who averaged 13.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and nearly 2 blocks per game last season at NC State — gives the Hoyas an impressive enough influx of talent to contend in next year’s Big East. Outside of defending national champion Villanova, the conference faces considerable turnover, and a state of flux on which Georgetown can capitalize.
There’s your Ewing Theory for 2019.