Hibbert's star turn began on the Hilltop

Hibbert's star turn began on the Hilltop
June 1, 2013, 4:45 pm
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The stories of Roy Hibbert's growth from a big man unable to run up-and-down the court to becoming an All-Star center are the stuff of legend. The interior presence's starry performance for the Indiana Pacers in the ongoing NBA playoffs, including his highlight block on Carmelo Anthony and intimidating influence against the Miami Heat, has added another notable chapter.

In 17 postseason games this year, Hibbert is averaging 16.5 points - five about his regular season average - along with 10 rebounds and two blocks. Game 18 comes Saturday night at home in a must-win scenario should for the Pacers, who trail Miami 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

The 7-foot-2 product out of Georgetown was selected with the 17th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, his entire five-year career spent in Indiana. Yet for the uninitiated or those NBA-only type of basketball fans, the tales of his development on the pro level might have one believing the major strides largely took place in Hoosier land. A good chunk, sure, but the base began on the Hilltop.

"Yes, when he started off here, he had a long way to go," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "But, he did win two Big East championships; he did go to a Final Four. He got better here.

"Someone said to me the other day, 'boy, Roy has really worked on his left-handed hook.' I'm like, 'did you see him his junior and senior year? That's not new. He's had that.'"

Despite his production with the Hoyas, teams passed on the massive, but slow-footed center until Larry Bird and the Pacers swooped in, acquiring Hibbert's rights in a deal with the Toronto Raptors for Jermaine O'Neal. 

"When Roy was coming out, people were talking about he might be enough of an athlete at [the NBA] level," Thompson said. "There were question marks about Roy going into the draft and Bird looked at it and said, hey, Roy is a pretty good player. You have to give the credit for having the foresight to see that Roy was a good player."

The trade for Hibbert, along with additions of Paul George, George Hill and David West, were among the key moves Bird to help shape the roster before he stepped aside after last season. That's tje season the good player became an All-Star and the Pacers decided to keep Hibbert around by matching a four-year, $58 million offer sheet he signed with the Trail Blazers. After a slow start to the 2012-13 campaign, Hibbert eventually returned to his low post scoring, shot-altering presence.

"Because of his size, defensively he's always going to be a factor, and because of his caring," Thompson said. "Offensively, right now he's the best passer on the Pacers team. He can pass, he score with both hands."

Perhaps big picture credit should also go to Hibbert himself. His skill set, his agility were non-existent during his High School career at Georgetown Prep, certainly resembling nothing like the agile and forceful notables including Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning that helped turn Georgetown University into Big Man U. Yet even as a freshman at Prep, that's the fraternity Hibbert knew he wanted to join.

Now he's part of the new breed of Georgetown frontcourters finding success in the NBA, along with Detroit's Greg Monroe and Boston's Jeff Green. As this picture shows, the pair joined Hibbert in Miami for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals along with the next Hoya set to join their ranks, Otto Porter Jr. (along with agent David Falk).

"Roy knew he wanted to be here. He knew he wanted to be a Georgetown center," Thompson said. "Jeff Green wanted to be here. [Greg Monroe] knew he wanted to be here. Guys that have known they wanted to be here...it's somehow mysteriously worked out that they've had very good careers."

The next morning after Indiana's Game 5 loss, Hibbert and his Indiana teammates were readying themselves for the next battle. Meanwhile, Monroe made his way to the Georgetown campus, visiting with Thompson and working on his game. Hibbert and the others will return over the summer. This is what the Georgetown alum do, return to where their growth truly began.