D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera Ready to Become a Household NamePosted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on January 6th, 2014
Markel Starks is the leader; Joshua Smith is the enigma; and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (DSR) is the scorer. These are the identities of each of Georgetown’s three best players this season. In Saturday afternoon’s blowout win against St. John’s, Smith-Rivera fulfilled his role by dropping 31 points on a remarkable 12 shots. It was a big game for the sophomore guard from Indianapolis — not only did he score in buckets, but he also grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists. After watching Georgetown through several games, it’s hard to conclude otherwise that Starks, the senior point guard and unquestioned leader of the team, is the most important player on the Hoyas’ roster. He was the reason Smith-Rivera was able to score as much as he did, by setting him up with clean passes right as he came off screens with enough space to get his shot off. But it’s equally just as difficult to come away from the weekend game without realizing the offensive powerhouse that Smith-Rivera has become and concluding that he’s poised to join the national conversation as an elite scorer.
Smith-Rivera is part of a superb 2012 recruiting class from the state of Indiana that includes names like Yogi Ferrell, Gary Harris, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III. Not as highly regarded as his Hoosier State peers, several Big Ten coaches recruited Smith-Rivera but did not make him a top priority. As a result, he decided to stay east, where he was attending Oak Hill Academy, ultimately committing to Georgetown. We need only look at Smith-Rivera’s performance for the season to understand the impact he’s had on the Hoyas’ offense. According to sportsreference.com, he leads the Big East in offensive efficiency (1.27 points per possession) and effective field goal percentage (59.7%). Among conference players, he is in the top five in the following categories: field goal percentage (48.2%), three-point field goals made (32), points per game (17.1), and win-shares (.231 per 40 minutes). These numbers alone would be impressive for any sophomore playing in a major basketball conference, but it is even more so from a player who’s considered a longshot to make the NBA (DSR is listed as the 74th-ranked sophomore at draftexpress.com) due to his physical shortcomings.
These shortcomings — he’s relatively small for a shooter with average athleticism — stem from his high school playing days when recruiting analysts were deterred from including DSR among the most elite recruits. Two years later, he’s making his case for a spot on the all-Big East team and showing that he too can get it done like the other elite Indianans from his class. To put it plainly, DSR has proven much better than advertised. His offensive improvement from last season — his scoring has nearly doubled, and his shooting percentages are all considerably better — has kept the Hoyas chugging along at 10-3 despite some obvious questions about the quality of their interior defense. For the Hoyas to earn another Big East title, he’ll need to show that he can keep contributing at a high level and remain healthy for the rest of the season. Georgetown lacks great depth beyond the starters — with both he and Starks averaging over 33 minutes per game, the Hoyas would have a much more difficult time scoring without him consistently in the lineup.