By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 28, 2009
More than 20 NBA scouts were on hand for Georgetown's pivotal game against Louisville on Monday. They didn't see the best of the young Hoyas, who were shown up yet again by a veteran squad that dominated both ends of the court.
Nor did they see the best of junior forward DaJuan Summers -- the object of much of the scouts' attention -- who performed at a fraction of his ability, scoring just four points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Summers insists he's not aware when scouts are present. It's not as important as the game at hand, he said. He hammered that point home yesterday, when he said that he intends to return to Georgetown for his senior year.
It likely wasn't the topic he wanted to discuss as Georgetown (14-12, 5-10) wrapped up practice before boarding a bus to Philadelphia, where another daunting Big East opponent awaits -- 10th-ranked Villanova (23-5, 11-4). But Summers didn't dodge the question Hoyas fans have been mulling as this disappointing season draws to a close and attention shifts to the team's prospects in 2009-10.
"I'll be here for next year," Summers said.
Like freshman center Greg Monroe, who said earlier this month that he intends to return for his sophomore year, Summers has plenty of time to declare for the 2009 NBA draft. And any player who does declare has until mid-June to pull out of the draft without losing his college eligibility.
But in Summers's case, returning for a fourth season is the smart play, in the view of former first-round pick Len Elmore, a veteran of 10 professional seasons who has followed the Hoyas closely this season as a commentator for ESPN.
"He's a talented young man, but what he has demonstrated pretty much is one-dimensional play," Elmore said of Summers in a telephone interview. "He settles too much for jump shots. Rarely does he create shots for other players, which he's capable of doing. If he tries out for an NBA team, he might be able to show something different. But in my estimation, you can't go wrong by staying another year -- no matter what anybody says."
Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said Summers's future shouldn't be debated now, with three regular season games and the Big East tournament remaining.
"At the end of the season we'll evaluate all of that," Thompson said. "Can he grow? Yes, absolutely. Everyone can still grow and improve, and he's got a lot that he can and will improve on."
That said, there is no "cookie-cutter answer" for every player's situation, Thompson said.
"If that's where his head is, that's where his head is," Thompson said of Summers's plan to return. "At the same time, it will be an educated decision, as opposed to an emotional decision. And we will go through that process when the season is over."
In many ways, Summers's fortunes have mirrored the Hoyas' season.
Blessed with the prototypical physique of an NBA small forward, Summers (6 feet 8, 240 pounds) opened his junior year amid buzz over his prospects as a first-round NBA pick, provided he diversified his skills.
He started impressively and drew raves from Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski after his performance in the Hoyas' 76-67 loss on Jan. 17, finishing with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals, all team highs. Krzyzewski called Summers "one of the best players we've played against this year or will play against."
But he has been less effective since, as have the Hoyas, who started the season 10-1 but then lost 11 of their next 15 games.
Potentially the Hoyas' most explosive offensive player, Summers is averaging a modest 12.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in Big East play and hasn't led the team in scoring since a 22-point outing on Jan. 31 against Marquette. His 34 assists are the fewest of any Hoyas starter.
"It's been a tough year, but it's definitely not over," said Summers, who helped Georgetown to the Final Four as a freshman. "We are a very talented team; we're just not clicking right now, for whatever reason. That happens with teams. But you just have to have a short-term memory and keep working."
As for his personal development, Summers knows what he needs to work on: muscling the ball inside rather than settling for jumpers from the perimeter, creating shots for teammates, improving his ballhandling and acquitting himself as a rebounder.
But much of that, he said, is dictated by opposing defenses.
"In games when the opportunity has presented itself, I think I've done a good job of taking advantage of it," Summers said. "In games when it wasn't there, I don't try to force it. I don't think forcing anything, or trying to force the issue, is going to help anything."