Hoya Guards Overlooked
Jonathan Wallace (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Jonathan Wallace (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Posted Mar 30, 2007

Ohio State guards Mike Conley Jr. and Ron Lewis might get more attention than their Georgetown counterparts. But Jeff Goodman says the Buckeyes better watch out for Jonathan Wallace and Jessie Sapp on Saturday.

All the talk is about Ohio State's backcourt play. It's about Mike Conley Jr., the poised freshman point guard who has excelled despite playing in Greg Oden's shadow. Or maybe Ron Lewis, the senior transfer from Bowling Green who continues to make huge shots.

When the chatter gets to the Georgetown Hoyas, it centers on the 1-2 punch of Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert. Green is Mr. Underrated and Hibbert is the most improved big man in the entire country.

Forgotten in the equation are Georgetown's guards.

But the Hoyas wouldn't be in Atlanta without their underrated backcourt of Jonathan Wallace and Jessie Sapp.

Wallace is a 6-foot-1 junior from Alabama who many didn't even think would be able to make it at Princeton. However, when John Thompson III left the Ivy League for Georgetown, Wallace followed — as a walk-on.

It took the reserved Wallace one semester to earn a scholarship.

``His character," Thompson said. "Just the kind of person that he is, is why I wanted him when I was at Princeton, why I wanted him when we got to Georgetown. Just the person he is. You win with good people. Jonathan Wallace, and I wish I could take some credit for the person that he is, but it's his family, his parents. He's a person that I wanted around our program."

Wallace has started every game since stepping foot on campus and will likely become the program's all-time 3-point shooter by the end of his career. His long-range shot has continued to be on the mark in the tournament — he is 17-of-31 for a sizzling 54.8 percent.

None have been bigger than his trifecta with 31.2 seconds left against North Carolina that sent the game into overtime and ultimately helped Georgetown advance to the Final Four.

``We knew we were going to get the shot at the top for Jon," Thompson III said. "That's what we were looking for. We were fortunate that our guys executed, we were fortunate that the ball went in. Jon has been making those shots for three years now. So we put the person that we wanted to get the shot where we wanted, and we're fortunate that it went in."

Wallace's backcourt mate is Sapp, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore from Harlem, N.Y. who played his high school ball at National Christian in Maryland. Sapp is putting up 12.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists in the four NCAA tournament games.

Sapp also brings a vocal presence and intensity to the equation. In fact, the duo couldn't be more different off the court. Wallace is the good 'old southern boy while Sapp is all about city life.

But they have both proven they can play with anyone.

While it was Wallace's shot against the Tar Heels that has gained national props, it was Sapp who came up with a career-high 20 points in the Hoyas' first-round win over Belmont.

Both have done a terrific job in the Princeton offense of taking care of the ball and running the system to near perfection.

Wallace has 27 assists and just five turnovers this postseason while Sapp has 29 assists and nine turnovers. That's a 4-to-1 turnover-to-assist ratio between the two since the Big East tourney began, which is a number that most coaches would kill for.

Including Ohio State's Thad Matta.

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