- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 20, 2001

ANAHEIM, Calif. Kevin Braswell points to his right forearm, where there is a tattoo of a large capital "K" and the words "All out on me" his hoops mantra beneath it.
"Who knows, I might never get a chance to play in the Sweet 16 again. So, I can't leave nothing out there," Georgetown's junior point guard said. "The postseason is the time to put up. Some guys are going to get nervous and have the jitters about playing in the NCAA tournament and everything, but that's when I dig down and go. I live and die for games like this."
Throughout his career, the 6-foot-1 native of Baltimore has played at his peak during the postseason. Last year, Braswell scored a career-high 40 points in Georgetown's thrilling triple-overtime victory at Virginia (115-111) in the opening round of the NIT. And last week, the determined co-captain drove the Hoyas (25-7) to a pair of NCAA tournament victories in Boise, Idaho, averaging 13.5 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals in wins over Arkansas and Hampton.
But Thursday Braswell faces the stiffest challenge of his career when his 10th-seeded Hoyas take on third-seed Maryland (23-10) and best friend-turned foe, Juan Dixon, at Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, Calif.
"This one's for bragging rights," Braswell said. "I know a lot of guys from their team, and I definitely don't what to go to College Park to visit Juan and hear all them talking about how they beat us to go to the final eight. I can't have that."
Much has been made of the backcourt matchup between the longtime buddies from Baltimore. Most folks know of Dixon's tragic past and how, after the death of his parents, the Maryland shooting guard moved in briefly with Braswell and his mother. But few local hoops' fans are familiar with Braswell's background or his turbulent trip from the streets of Baltimore to the Sweet 16.
A poignant hint comes on page 90 of the Georgetown media guide. Braswell's biography is on the page, as well as a brief Q&A; with the Hoyas' top perimeter player. One of the questions asks, "Who is the person in history you would most like to meet?" Braswell's answer: "My father."
"My father has never been there for me," Braswell said. "I grew up in a single-parent home. My father left my mother when I was 2 years old, and I never got a chance to know him. When you're 2 years old, you don't understand. You just know someone's missing. I've haven't seen him since then, and I don't even know where he is. It's crazy. It took me a long time to accept it, but I'm over that now. At this point, I'm through with it. Since he hasn't tried to find me by now, forget it. It's behind me."
Also behind Braswell is the tough neighborhood that almost sabotaged his career. After his sophomore year at Lake Clifton High School (1995-96), Braswell had to deal with Dixon's departure for basketball power Calvert Hall. Without Dixon to hang out with on and off the court, Braswell started running with a tougher crowd. Late in his junior year, he and several friends were arrested on drug-related charges.
"That was a big misunderstanding," Braswell said. "I got in trouble for being with the wrong crowd. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. There were a lot of guys with me, and my name came up. Compared to some of the things that went on over the years back in the old neighborhood, that was minor. I wasn't involved with all that stuff, but some of those people were my friends. And I wasn't going to get into anything but trouble hanging out with them."
Despite the fact that the charges were dropped, some college coaches started to sour on Braswell as a recruit. His mother assessed the situation and insisted on a change of scenery.
"My mother knew the way the neighborhood could drag you down, and she was like, 'Look, it's time for you to get out of here,' " said Braswell, who transferred to Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, basketball's version of boot camp, before his senior season. "So, I went to MCI to get away from everything. There are no distractions up there. There's one stoplight in town. There's not even a McDonald's the nearest one is like 30 minutes away… . Juan called me every day. There are two pay phones we could use, and he would call me at the same time every night. He would always say, 'Make sure you get your grades,' because this was when he was red-shirting at Maryland."
Braswell got his grades, and a New England Prep League championship at MCI, playing beside former St. John's star Erick Barkley on a team that finished 35-0. He went to Georgetown as a shooting guard and was forced to learn the point on the fly as a freshman. He earned Big East all-rookie honors in 1998-99. Last season, he completed his transformation into a point guard and led the team in scoring (14.8 points). This season, Braswell further honed his playmaking skills, was named second-team All-Big East and finished among the national leaders in assists (6.3) and steals (2.9). And Thursday night, the roundball world will be focused on Braswell and the Baltimore backcourt reunion.
"It's truly amazing that it's all come full circle," Braswell said. "That after all [Dixon's] been through, and after all I've been through, here we are playing each other in the tournament. Not too many guys with the relationship me and Juan have can say they got the chance to play against each other in the Sweet 16. It's sweet all right."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide