WASHINGTON — Welcome to the Hilltop, home of one of America's finest institutions of higher learning. Welcome to Joylesstown, home of Patrick Ewing's suddenly tumultuous and troubled team.
Georgetown University, its identity forever tied to the school's legendary men's basketball program, is suddenly reeling after revelations of player defections and off-the-court restraining orders.
Ewing, the original Hoya Destroya who came back in 2017 to restore glory to the school he led to three Final Fours and a national title in 1984, is suddenly a social media punch line among some of the college basketball community.
The starting point guard, James Akinjo, and one of the team's most important role players, Josh LeBlanc, have entered the NCAA's transfer portal. Seven games into the season, this means they will no longer play for Georgetown again.
Much worse, less than a day after Ewing released a terse statement about the two players and gave no reason for their departures, LeBlanc, a sophomore forward, and another player, junior forward Galen Anderson, have both been hit with temporary restraining orders in D.C. Superior Court. Three students filed two complaints, according to DC Metro police incident reports, alleging burglary, sexual harassment and assault by Anderson, LeBlanc and freshman Myron Gardner.
The details in the reports include four stolen items -- two Sony Playstation controllers, a Nikon camera and shoes -- a Facetime threat (one of the players is alleged to have said, "If you tell anyone, we'll send people after you,") and, most disturbingly, according to one report filed Nov. 4, one of the players showed the complainant “his erect clothed penis” on Sept. 9.
None of the players involved have been arrested. Athletic Director Lee Reed released a statement Tuesday afternoon, and did not say whether any were currently under investigation by the university while clarifying that Akinjo had nothing to do with the alleged criminal behavior of the other three.
Still, three years into Ewing's plan to make Georgetown a prominent name in college basketball again, this is a gut-punch of a development for the Hoyas.
The most alarming part, given the alleged incidents happened in early September: Two of the accused have missed but one game apiece and the other player has missed none. This brings into question whether the players suffered any real consequence for their alleged actions and, even larger, whether Ewing knew about the restraining orders as he played Alexander, LeBlanc and Gardner key minutes in almost all of Georgetown's games.
Let's be clear: though program patriarch John Thompson, Jr., Ewing's former coach, took chances on athletes like Victor Paige and Allen Iverson over the years, this school has never been Win At All Costs State or Turn a Blind Eye University.
It's the oldest Jesuit institution in the country. Its values are steeped in caring for the common good. If the allegations are found to be true, how Ewing and the school handled this runs counter to everything the university perceives itself to be.
Transparently, I hope it's not true. Knowing Ewing since my days covering the New York Knicks for the New York Times, I want to give him and his players the benefit of the doubt until this all shakes out.
After all the dominoes fall -- many much larger than basketball -- the men's basketball program feels almost secondary right now. After all the dominoes fall, here's hoping Georgetown has its soul left.