Patrick Ewing's seemingly impossible task at Georgetown got a whole lot more difficult on Wednesday. His top player for next season, Mac McClung, has requested to transfer from the Hoyas immediately.
From the outside, it appears more players want out than want in. McClung marks the fifth transfer out of the Hoyas program since December. Not bottom of the roster transfers either. Starters and stars are leaving. Clearly, not a good sign for Ewing as he is set to enter his fourth season as Georgetown's head coach.
While this is a far different situation than the legal issues some former Hoyas faced in December, Ewing is at least somewhat at fault for the loss of one of the most electric players he's had in three seasons.
The abrupt decision by McClung comes exactly a week following a disconnect with the head coach. Ewing told Andy Katz on a podcast that McClung would return to the Hoyas for his junior season, before any official announcement. McClung's NCAA-verified agent, Daniel Hazan, refuted that claim and said that 6-foot-2 guard was still meeting with NBA teams and had not stated his intentions to return to school.
"The podcast with Andy Katz was not the deciding factor to my decision to transfer," McClung told ESPN. "I think it affected my pre-draft process and seemed to confuse a lot of teams."
Whether he states it was a factor or not, it clearly had an influence and struck a bad cord in the player-coach relationship. McClung also told ESPN that multiple factors led to his decision.
"It was a number of different events that made me feel I had no choice but to transfer from Georgetown," McClung told ESPN. "I really wanted to stay, but things throughout my career made me realize that I couldn't... I'm looking for a place I can call home. A place I can be a part of a family and help them succeed."
A rough contrast of his former team if he was unable to get that same affinity at the Hilltop.
In an effort that almost rubs salt in the wound, in addition to McClung's announcement coming a week to the day of the rift, he is also withdrawing his name from the NBA Draft process according to ESPN.
And once again, Ewing faces another rebuild in his first stint as a head coach. As if going through last season with at times six healthy scholarship players wasn't difficult enough, he has to face another challenge.
Ewing enters his fourth season without an NCAA Tournament bid and hasn't even come close to sniffing March Madness as a coach. The Hoyas' best season got them to an NIT appearance in a campaign that was built on a cupcake non-conference schedule. The program hiring an big-name alum was supposed to invigorate the fanbase and donors.
The opposite has happened. A once proud Hoya Saxa program has become lethargic, but being critical of unequivocally the best player in Georgetown history is difficult.
Even the school itself is in a rough spot. It's one thing for fans to grow frustrated with someone they revere. But could the institution part ways with their legend? Chris Mullin had to resign from his alma mater, St. John's. Danny Manning was fired from Wake Forest. Isiah Thomas and Clyde Drexler also had failed tenures at FIU and Houston respectively.
The Hoyas have displayed patience before. They did with John Thompson III and surely a loose leash has been given to Ewing. But performance-wise, Ewing hasn't improved much from his predecessor. And this transfer mess has left a black eye on the program.
It has now been five years - and presumably soon-to-be six given the state of the roster - without even a tournament appearance from the once-famed program. Patience is wearing thin.
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