Although Patrick Ewing, Georgetown's all-America basketball center, will not play in the Pan American Games this summer because of a conflicting class schedule, he said yesterday he wants to represent the U.S. in the 1984 Olympics. He also said competing in the trials last month proved to him he was not ready to turn professional.
"It was really a tough decision because I wanted to play," Ewing said of the Pan Am Games. "But I also want to graduate on time or even stay ahead of schedule, and that's the first priority. It's just something I feel I should do."
Ewing, who has just finished his sophomore year, said in an interview that when competing in the Pan Am trials he realized he had to become more conscious of improving his overall offensive game.
"There's a lot I need to work on," he said. "I have to get much stronger. I need to slow down with my moves once I get the ball. Being at those tryouts made me realize I just was not ready to turn professional.
"Then I looked at some of the NBA playoff games (on television) and I kept noticing how Kareem Jabbar and Moses (Malone) would position themselves in different spots on the floor and how they would take position against their men on defense, how they get into the lane and choose a specific shot, like when to shoot the sky hook or when to take a jumper.
"Everybody has his own style, and I'm not looking to copy Moses or Kareem. But I'll be looking to develop my own offensive style. I've been relying too much on my ability to dunk. Coach (John) Thompson is making me aware of other options, other shots. I'm trying to improve my timing and become consistent.
"Getting my degree is what I had in mind when I came to Georgetown and it's what my mother has in mind, too," Ewing continued. "I still want to play in the Olympics and represent my country . . . It's a big goal and I just hope I can."
This summer, basketball will be a lower priority for Ewing, who will again work on Capitol Hill and take Spanish classes at Georgetown that will help fullfill his language requirement.
"It's important that I take Spanish now because the best way to take a foreign language is in the summer when you're not constantly on the road. You're at home and you can devote a lot of time to it every day," Ewing said.
Ewing also is devoting much time to another interest--art. "You're major should be something that you like," he said, "so I selected fine arts. When I was young, I loved to draw. Growing up in Jaimaca, I always dreamed about being an artist or a professional soccer player. Soccer isn't big here. But art is still a major interest.
"Drawing stimulates me. It's something I can relax with. Here in Washington, there's a lot of great landscape to study. I've gone over to the Lincoln Memorial and studied it; maybe I'll get a chance to (draw) this summer."
And it's often in those relaxed moments that Ewing doodles and reflects on the basketball season past. "When I think back on last season, I'll remember that we didn't do as well as many people said we should (22-10), but that we did as well as we could, which is all anyone can ask. I remember watching the championship game between Houston and North Carolina State, and thinking, 'We should be there.' "
And then there are some moments Ewing would perhaps rather not remember, or at least not discuss; like the ugly signs held up in Big East Conference arenas that were so degrading to him.
Asked if he'd like to respond to those who held the signs, Ewing said, "That's one area I don't discuss."
As for those who two years ago questioned his admittance to Georgetown, Ewing said:
"I really never paid attention to the things people supposedly said. People tend to hide their feelings when they speak with you face to face, so it's hard to know what they really feel. They say things behind your back and make certain comments to others. So, they can think or feel whatever.
"I know the goals we (Ewing's family) set for me when I came here, and that's what I want to work toward.
"I have interests other than basketball. Last year (when he worked on Capitol Hill), I liked seeing how the federal government worked, being around legislators. It was just fun seeing how the other half lived, thinking what it would be like to be a politician."