NEW YORK — For those that question if America remains a land of opportunity, we offer D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.
Smith-Rivera has taken advantage of his opportunities and is poised to write one of the great chapters in Georgetown basketball history — on and off the court.
After a solid junior season in which he averaged 16.3 points per game and 38.7-percent shooting on 3’s, Smith-Rivera considered leaving for the NBA Draft. He went through the evaluation process with Hoya coach John Thompson III.
"It’s my job to put all of them in the best situation to achieve their goals,” Thompson told FOXSports.com. "I tried to give him an honest assessment. That, and coupled with that which rarely gets talked about, is, he wanted to get his degree.”
If Smith-Rivera graduates, he said he will become the first person in his family to get a college degree. And if he can have a third straight All Big-East season, his decision to return could get Georgetown back to the Sweet 16 and beyond for the first time since their Final Four run in 2007, boosting his NBA stock.
"We’re poised, and he’s poised, to have a terrific year,” said Thompson III, whose Hoyas were picked second in the league coach’s preseason poll.
Smith-Rivera knows the feeling of a terrific season. He helped Georgetown win a share of the Big East regular season title as a freshman. Now he’s a senior.
"Man, seems like I just got on campus the other day,” he said.
Thompson believes Smith-Rivera’s thoughts run deeper.
"I anticipate, when people ask about the benefits of having a senior return, the expected answers are,” Thompson said, "his experience, he knows what the coach wants, he can help the younger players. And all of that is accurate.
"He comes back for his senior year, he’s hungry, he wants to win. I think winning this year to him is extremely important to him, not that the other years weren’t. But all of a sudden it’s your senior year. You’re at the end of that tunnel and you can see the other side. You take stock in how you want to be remembered as a Georgetown player.”
Smith-Rivera knows exactly how he wants to be remembered.
"I want people to remember me as someone who handled himself the right way on and off the court,” Smith-Rivera said. "I want them to remember a winner. My goal is to play in the NBA. But when I graduate, that paper can open a lot of doors. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity.”