The chances the UConn menâ€™s basketball team faces an old Big East foe in the upcoming Phil Knight Invitational were eliminated Tuesday when Georgetown made the rather stunning move of pulling out of the loaded tournament.
Georgetown, who recently hired legendary alum Patrick Ewing as its head coach, announced Tuesday it would not participate in the PK80, a 16-team event scheduled for the week of Thanksgiving in Portland, Oregon, to celebrate the 80th birthday of the Nike co-founder.
DePaul has replaced Georgetown in the event and the Blue Demons will take the Hoyasâ€™ spot opposite Michigan State in the tournamentâ€™s opening round.
The winners and losers from that game will face off with those who experience the same result from the UConn-Oregon first round game.
So instead of a possible UConn-Georgetown second-round matchup - though the Huskies would likely see Michigan State if they won - UConn could face off with longtime Husky assistant Dave Leitao. Leitao is the head coach at DePaul, his second stint with the school in that role.
UConn and Georgetown faced off last season, with the Hoyas winning 72-69 in Washington on Jan. 14.
North Carolina, Oklahoma, Portland and Arkansas are also in the â€śVictoryâ€ť bracket of the Nike event along with the Huskies.
Georgetownâ€™s decision was surprising given the prestige of participating in the PK80.
â€śThe Georgetownâ€™s menâ€™s basketball program is in the midst of an exciting time of rebuilding,â€ť Georgetown Athletic Director Lee Reed said in a statement released by the school. â€śGeorgetown has a prominent, seasoned head coach who has begun this process, which will continue to develop in the fall. After considerable consultation with ESPN, we have reached a mutual agreement that Georgetown will not participate in the PK80 Phil Knight Invitational this November. The University values its longstanding partnership with ESPN and looks forward to participating in future events. We appreciate the understanding of the fans and organizations associated with this event and wish success to all involved.â€ť
It seems the Hoyas felt the schedule they had put together for Ewingâ€™s first season might be too challenging and opted to back out of the Nike tournament.
Another recruit eyeing Huskies
The Huskies may receive their first commitment in the Class of 2018 this week. Montez Mathis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from the Baltimore area is going to announce his college choice Friday.
Mathis, a four-star recruit who is ranked as the 16th-best shooting guard in the class by 247sports, has narrowed his choices to UConn and Rutgers. Mathis has received scholarship offers from numerous other schools, including Virginia Tech.
A native of Essex, Maryland who attends the John Carroll School in nearby Bel Air, Maryland, Mathis is rated as the No. 86 overall recruit in the Class of 2018 by rivals.com and No. 58 by scout.com.
Talking about his recruitment with scout.com last week, Mathis said UConn coach Kevin Ollie has shown great interest.
â€śWith UConn, coach Ollie has been recruiting me since middle school, so thatâ€™s a plus,â€ť he said. â€śI like how Kevin Ollie develops his guards and gets them to the next level.â€ť