Coming out of high school, Greg Monroe and Devin Ebanks (Louisiana and New York, respectively) were two of the best forward prospects in the 2008 Class.
Monroe, who turned down Coach K and Duke along with Uconn was quite the missing piece for a contender. He opted for Georgetown and left Jim Calhoun and Coach K in a ditch.
However, Ebanks is a bit smaller at 6'8, and he chose West Virginia over Texas and Memphis.
Monroe came into a situation trying to replace Roy Hibbert who graduated.
Having chosen to play in the Big East, Monroe and Ebanks thought they'd clash quite a bit in the powerhouse league.
The two freshman only met once in the Big East, which was at the Verizon Center in January. Georgetown took a whopping 75-58 beatdown at the hands of West Virginia. Monroe, the focal point of the frontcourt scored 11 points and grabbed 8 boards and dished four assists. Ebanks only scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds in the matchup. Both players combined for eight turnovers.
As the season grew old Ebanks matured as the frontcourt leader under Bob Huggins. After the Georgetown win he scored in double digits 13 out of the next 16 games.
Ebanks led West Virginia's frontcourt in Morgantown and dropped 16 points along with 10 rebounds while De'Sean Butler torched Scottie Reynolds and Villanova for 43 points. The Mountaineers rolled 93-72, and Ebanks flew onto the national radar...
Greg Monroe, not to be outdone, scored in double figures in 26 games his freshman year. However, his Hoyas struggled severly and were constantly thrown under the bus.
The Mountaineers finished 21-10(10-8) in the Big East. Ebanks led his team to a win over Luke Harangody in the Big East Tournament followed by a 74-60 whipping of Pittsburgh who was labeled a Final Four team. They eventually lost to Syracuse in overtime despite 22 points from Ebanks.
Monroe only experienced five wins in the final 15 regular season games, with two key wins over Villanova ans Syracuse. Georgetown qualified for the Big East Tournament and blew their opportunities in Madison Square Garden against St. John's in the opening round.
Suprisingly, the Hoyas were invited to the NIT where they layed an egg against Baylor who only had 3 bench points...pathetic right?
On the brink of a fresh start, Monroe and Ebanks find their teams ranked in every top 25 poll. West Virginia's ranked in the top 10 of most polls.
Both sophomores are on many All-America ballots. Ebanks is a favorite along with teammate De'Sean Butler for the Big East Player of the Year honor. I expect each to improve their scoring average at least 6.0 ppg.
Monroe is ultimately playing for stock, as in NBA Draft language. A projected lottery lock and possibly a top 10 pick, Monroe will be on a mission like never before. Scouts will travel to every game of his just watch him progress as a player.
If Monroe toots his hat too much, he may find his team in the garbage can all over again.
Ed Davis will be another top forward in the same boat.
Ebanks and Monroe are unquestionably gifted players with the sky as their potential.