- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 2, 2002

If soul were an NCAA statistic, Georgetown's Kevin Braswell might well lead the nation.

Senior Day usually is an insipid affair for college fans and hoopsters alike. Often, extraordinary players and little-used reserves are lumped together and honored in a pregame ceremony that seems as insufficient for the stars as it is overblown for the bench-warmers.

But today at MCI Center, Braswell will stand alone in the spotlight as the Hoyas' only senior. Nothing could be more fitting for a player whose career on the Hilltop has been defined by both singular accomplishments and the heavy burden of sole responsibility.

From a statistical standpoint, the 6-foot-2 playmaker from Baltimore soon will be etched in the Georgetown record book as one of the greatest point guards in the program's illustrious history. Braswell will finish his career as the school's all-time leader in steals (currently 345) and assists (670). He will finish at least seventh on the all-time scoring list (1,695) with a career average of nearly 14 points. And perhaps most amazingly, he will be one of only six players since the beginning of the John Thompson era (1972-73) to start every game of his four-year career, joining Sleepy Floyd, David Wingate, Dwayne Bryant, Robert Churchwell and Othella Harrington.

"That's crazy to think about," Braswell said yesterday. "I never think about records or things like that, but that's pretty wild to think I've never missed a game."

But mere numbers can't do justice to what Braswell has meant to the Hoyas and experienced in their uniform. Already under duress as a young point guard forced into unexpected early duty by the suspension of leading scorer Shernard Long in 1998-99, Braswell had to endure the surprise resignation of Hall of Fame coach Thompson midway through his freshman year. As a bridge between past and present, Braswell is the only player on the current roster to play for Thompson and successor Craig Esherick.

"I feel blessed to say I had the opportunity to play for Coach Thompson," Braswell said. "But I'm also very glad that I got to be a part of the beginning for Coach Esherick, because he is the one who was always at my high school games [as an assistant coach], watching me, recruiting me and telling me what I needed to work on to play at Georgetown. … It's very special to have played for someone that cared for you from way back."

Braswell suffered through the program's nadir that first season as both the first-year coach and freshman point guard tried to adjust to the spotlight and cope with the school's first losing season (15-16) in nearly 20 years.

Braswell was the primary cog in the program's revival during the stretch run the following season. He dropped the first of his three career last-second game-winners against West Virginia in the first round of the Big East tournament and then led the Hoyas to a stunning second-round upset of then-No.12 Syracuse. That victory, which he lists as his favorite moment, was the team's first over a ranked opponent in three years, marked the first time in Big East tournament history a No.9 seed had ever beaten a No.1 and officially heralded Georgetown's return to the realm of big-time basketball.

A week later, Braswell authored one of the most memorable performances in the school's history, scoring 40 points in a 115-111 triple-overtime NIT victory over Virginia in what many fans agreed was the best game of the season. Braswell's scoring outburst, which left him battling severe cramps and attached to an IV afterward, remains the most points ever scored by an opponent at Virginia's University Hall.

But it's not records or last-second shots that best define Braswell's impact on the Hilltop. It's not his willingness to shelf his shooter's mentality for a point guard's duties as primary distributor. It's not his leadership in carrying the Hoyas to the Sweet 16 of last year's NCAA tournament. Or his work in helping this season's freshman backcourt duo of Tony Bethel and Drew Hall put the Hoyas (17-10, 8-7 Big East) back in contention for another NCAA berth.

Basically, Braswell has been the soul of the Hoyas for the last four seasons. And it's that attitude and carriage, both on an off the court, that best defines him.

Braswell has lived up to the inscription tattooed on his right forearm: "All out On me." He's always given his all for the blue and gray. And he's never flinched from his role of responsibility as the team's last-minute go-to guy and ultimate player spokesman. Quite simply, he's not only Georgetown's captain, he's a stand-up guy.

"I've always wanted to be the guy to handle the key situations in games and the tough questions after losses," said Braswell. "That comes from my mother. My father was never there for me growing up, but she was always there. She was both a mother and a father, and she's still my best friend. When I saw that she was able to do all that in a stituation that was so hard [I saw it all in Baltimore growing up], that taught me about hard work and accountability."

Today, when the soul of the Hoyas takes the court at MCI Center for the last time with his team's dim NCAA tournament hopes barely flickering, he plans to honor that inspiration.

"It will be real emotional," Braswell said. "Sitting here and talking about my last home game and how far I've come, man, it almost makes me want to go to tears. I'm not sure what will happen, but I know the first thing I'll do is point at my mother, because she's been beside me all along. Then I'll have to put those emotions aside, and we'll have to go out and take care of business against Rutgers (18-10, 8-7). Because we're not through yet this season. We're playing our best basketball right now, and I don't think I could live with it if we lost my final home game."

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