What was the greatest backcourt in Georgetown's basketball history?
Of a century of backcourts, only two have featured a pair of All-Americans who went on to the NBA. One was John Duren and Eric Floyd. Nearly forty years earlier, the same honors were gained by a pair of New York area guards in Danny Kraus and Billy Hassett.
Hassett was a consensus all-city guard from Lasalle Academy, the MVP in the 1941 Glens Falls tournament that gave LaSalle the unofficial Eastern high school championship. Among offers nationwide, Hassett chose to enroll at Georgetown in 1941, joining a number of Bronx-area players who had all played together as kids under a summer league coach named Elmer Ripley.
In an unusual move, Ripley named Hassett and Kraus, both freshmen, as team captains. Hassett was the playmaker behind Georgetown's greatest team of the vintage era, winning 19 of 23 in the regular season and earning Georgetown's first post-season bid. "Hassett, brother of New York Yankee first [baseman] Buddy Hassett," wrote the Charleston Gazette, "is chubby and plays with a heavily bandaged knee, but his passing is uncanny and his long shooting unerring." Hassett never led the team in scoring but was vital in a number of exciting games, including 11 points in the NCAA
semifinal upset over DePaul and its future Hall of Famer, George Mikan.
When Georgetown suspended its intercollegiate program for the balance of World War II, Hassett transferred to Notre Dame. He was named All-America in 1944-45, and did even better when his old coach Elmer Ripley, joined the Irish staff. Hassett was named team captain for the 1945-46 Irish, which won 13 straight en route to a 17-4 record and the school's first ever #1 ranking. Hassett was named All-American for a second year, but graduated from Notre Dame before he could return with Ripley to Georgetown the following year.
Hassett went on to the pros in 1946, joining the NBL's Chicago Gears and being named to the league's All Rookie team. He continued his career with the Buffalo Bisons before joining the NBA's Tri-Cities Hawks in 1948, later playing with the Minneapolis Lakers and Baltimore Bullets.
Billy Hassett was enshrined in the inaugural class of the Georgetown University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1958.