By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Heading into tomorrow night's NBA draft, Patrick Ewing Jr. doesn't care if he's called a role player -- as long as some team simply picks up the phone and calls him.
Ewing, who finished his college career as a senior at Georgetown last season, may not be selected in the two-round draft, but he's optimistic that he'll get a chance to show what he can do in summer league play and later in some team's fall training camp.
To make his case, the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Ewing has crisscrossed the country for workouts with the Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Bobcats, Detroit Pistons, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Seattle SuperSonics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Hornets.
Ewing's goal has been to get NBA teams to look beyond the fact that he shares a name with his famous father, the Georgetown legend and former New York Knicks great, and the fact that he averaged a modest 6.1 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Hoyas last season.
Ewing hopes NBA executives and coaches saw an intelligent, versatile and hungry player who will not be afraid to do the little things it takes to win basketball games. After all, it was precisely that skill set that made Ewing an integral part of Georgetown teams that won 58 games the past two seasons and advanced to the 2007 Final Four.
Ewing's scrappy play and unselfish approach helped him earn the Big East's sixth man award last season.
"I've just tried to show that I'm the kind of guy who can go in there and do anything a coach asks," Ewing said over the phone from Sacramento. "I know that I'm not going to go in there and score 20 points every night and put up a bunch of shots, but I can rebound, I can play defense, I can hustle. That's something every team needs."
One NBA executive who followed Ewing's career at Georgetown and watched him perform at the pre-draft camp in Orlando last month said Ewing is approaching his professional career with the perfect mind-set.
"If he gets it in his head that he's going to have to be a hustle guy first, a guy who goes in there and gets rebounds, plays defense and just brings energy to the court, then he's got a shot," said the executive, who asked not to be named. "He has to overcome some things, though. He doesn't really have a position. He's not really a [small forward] and he's not really a [power forward] either and his offensive game is raw, but he's a good athlete, he's coachable and he's been a winner. Those things will give him a chance."
Ewing helped himself in Orlando by scoring 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting in his first game, but he cooled off as the week went along and has been trying to use the workout process to show teams that he can compete with higher-profile prospects who put up bigger numbers in college.
In terms of body type and playing style, Ewing is similar to Wizards forward Dominic McGuire, who saw spot duty in 70 games as a rookie last season. Though raw offensively, McGuire's hustle, rebounding and defense earned him minutes from Coach Eddie Jordan at the small forward position. Players like McGuire can be found throughout the league.
"It's all about finding that right fit and then taking advantage of the opportunity," said Ewing, who found just that at Georgetown after playing his first two college seasons at Indiana. "That's what I'm hoping to do."
One thing Ewing won't try to do is mimic his father, whose entrance to the NBA as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 draft was drastically different from the one he is hoping to make now, 23 years later.
Big Patrick, an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic, was a regular at his son's Georgetown games and he was on hand in Orlando to watch him during the pre-draft camp. However, Ewing has never felt pressure to live up to his father's status, and he doesn't plan to take on that pressure now that he's attempting to make his own name in the NBA.
"I've just always said that I have to be me," said Ewing, who plans to watch the draft at his apartment near the Georgetown campus. "I'm my own player, and I have to concentrate on what I do well."
If Ewing does not hear his name called tomorrow night, it may actually be a good thing, because undrafted free agents are free to pick the situation that fits them best.
It would allow Ewing to survey several rosters and choose a team that needs a player like him.
"Hopefully, I can hear my name called, but I know that only so many guys get drafted, so if I'm not one of them, I'll just have to make it another way," Ewing said. "I just need a team to give me a shot, and I'll show them that I can help a team win games. That's what it's all about for me."