By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
One of DaJuan Summers's first important lessons as a college basketball player came in late December, when the Georgetown freshman was whistled for four offensive fouls in a game against Navy.
Summers was frustrated. He was trying to do the same things that made him one of the top high school forwards in Baltimore, not to mention the country, but it wasn't working; whenever the Midshipmen saw him drive to the basket, one of them would step in to draw a charge.
"I never got offensive fouls like that in high school," the 6-foot-8, 241-pound Summers said. "I had to think about it a lot. I didn't want to stop driving, and Coach didn't want me to stop driving. He just wanted me to pick my times when to drive. . . . I was trying to force the issue too much. I needed to relax. I don't think that will happen too much now, because I understand it more."
In fact, Summers hasn't been called for an offensive foul since that game, just one example of how he has gradually grown more comfortable. He has emerged as one of the Hoyas' best offensive players, capable of shooting from the outside (36.5 percent on three-point tries) as well as getting to the basket. In victories at Rutgers and Seton Hall last week, Summers totaled 34 points and 12 rebounds.
In conference play, Summers is shooting 50 percent and is averaging 11.8 points, which is tied for the team lead with junior guard Jonathan Wallace. He has become a better rebounder and has been more careful with the ball; after committing 29 turnovers (12 of which were fouls at the offensive end) in his first 13 games, he has had just five in his past five games.
"We didn't know he was going to come in being as good as he is and scoring the way he is," junior forward Jeff Green said. "That can take a lot of pressure off Roy [Hibbert, Georgetown's 72 center]. . . . Teams trying to double-team him, with DaJuan scoring the way he is, that'll make teams look more into having to guard him and having to guard me and Jon, and that will free up Roy down low."
Summers was a late-blooming star at McDonogh, a private school in Owings Mills, Md. Donta Evans, his high school coach, remembers watching in awe as Summers threw down one remarkable dunk after another in practice, or grabbed a rebound with players hanging on his arms, or made a tough catch in transition that led to a layup -- "things that you don't see kids his size do." Evans isn't surprised by Summers's success at Georgetown, but he knew that it was going to take Summers, who played predominantly inside for the Eagles, some time to settle in.
"That was going to be his biggest challenge in college, learning the little nuances of playing on the perimeter," Evans said. "It's a completely different game out there. In high school, he could catch the ball, roll his shoulder and drive. He's had to adjust his game."
Green, who was an All-Met at Northwestern, went through a similar adjustment when he joined the Hoyas. So Green, who is 6-9, 235 pounds, made a special point of helping Summers.
"Playing high school and being the top guy on your team, you can do whatever," Green said. "I could see him coming in and wanting to play down low, but everybody is much bigger. You've got to start doing other things by playing on the perimeter and using your quickness. I try to help him out on that and teach him some of the things I did my freshman year."
Summers also gets pointers from his close friend Rudy Gay, who played for the same AAU program before going on to Connecticut and the NBA. He is grateful to his on-site instructor.
"Jeff helps me a lot, but I don't think he knows how much he helps me," Summers said. "Jeff's work ethic is amazing. I try to mirror that, and just work as hard as he does and bring the same kind of intensity he does every day. Our games are similar, so I watch him sometimes."
Summers, who scored 17 points in his first collegiate start (at Fairfield on Nov. 22), has started doing more than just score. He has been much more aggressive in going after rebounds; he had a career-high 10 against Seton Hall.
"As the year has gone along, he's getting a comfort level with where his shots are going to come from; he's getting a comfort level with the coaching staff; he's getting a comfort level with where his teammates are going to be," Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said. "He still has his ups and downs, as most freshmen do. But he's settling in."