Although his coach says six schools are still in contention, a number of college coaches believe that 7-foot Pat Ewing, the nation's most prized high school basketball recruit, has made Georgetown his first choice.

Mike Jarvis, Ewing's coach at Cambridge (Mass.) Rindge and Latin, said although an announcement could come as early as Jan. 1. -- precisely the timetable that Jarvis, assistant coach Steve Jenkins and Ewing's parents established.

However, from interviews the past two days with a number of college coaches, including some of the final six, and sources in the Boston area, the consensus is that Ewing's first choice is Georgetown, unless he decides to stay at home and attend Boston College.

Ewing has met and visited coaches at Georgetown, BC, North Carolina, UCLA, Boston University, and Vilanova. Ewing, under ground rules established by his coaches and parents does not talk to the college coaches or to the media about his college choice.

"I've always thought Georgetown would be in the lead," said UCLA Coach Larry Brown. "I can't really say why, except because of my feelings for John (Georgetown Coach John Thompson), Mike and Patrick . . . I think this (UCLA) is a great place for him. But right from the start, I thought he'd stay close to home."

However, John Thompson said, "I never heard anything to that effect. They never told us it was anything less than six schools."

Brown also said he had talked to Jarvis Tuesday night and was told that all six schools remained in contention.

Said Jarvis yesterday: "There are six schools being mulled over and considered and, because of the quality of the six, none have been eliminated at this time. Patrick's gone through the screening, interview and visiting processes. Now, it's really just a matter of him picking one of the schools.

In the world of big-time college recruiting, rumors abound. Some rival recruiters spread false reports, sometimes to put other coaches and schools -- sometimes the recruit himself -- in a bad light.In Ewing's case, some of the rumors have been rather vicious.

The latest story making the round of recruiters is that the school that get Ewing will have to let him turn in papers late and take exams at his pace. gAbsolutley false, said Jarvis.

"He's no different than any other kid in the country," Jarvis said. "He has to be in a place he will succeed. That depends on the workload and support systems available. I don't know what you've heard. But Patrick Ewing's a very bright individual. Because he came from Jamaica in the sixth grade, he has some catching up to do on reading. He is and he will continue to do so. He needs to have support services to do the work and proceed toward graduation and a degree.

Some people believe Georgetown is favored because Thompson is black and Ewing wants to play for a black coach. "That's a joke around here," said Jarvis, who is black. "Thompson is a great coach, period. Larry Brown is a great coach, period. Nobody has mentioned to me that Tom Davis (Boston College) is white or that Dean Smith (North Carolina) is white. If he goes to Georgetown, it certainly won't be because Thompson is black, but because Thompson is a great coach running a quality program.

There are other unsubstantiated reports.

That Ewing and his parents are close and that they may put pressure on him to remain at home. BC would benefit from that requirement and also another report, that Ewing was enraptured with the Big East Conference. That would also favor Georgetown and also brings in Villanova as a possibility, since it is closer to Boston.

That a recent story about Georgetown in Sports Illustrated, entitled "The Gospel According to John," has sold Ewing on Thompson and the Hoyas. That story certainly mentions Georgetown academics, the fact the 35 of 37 Thompson recruits have graduated or are presently on time in pursuit of their degree.

Said Davis, the BC coach, "it's like the wind. Sometimes it blows from the north and sometimes from the south. You try not to get too discouraged if it's not going for you at the moment."