- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2007

At a time when college freshmen usually hit the proverbial wall, Georgetown’s DaJuan Summers is hitting his stride.

Building on a solid regular season as Georgetown’s lone freshman starter, the 6-foot-8 Summers took an impressive step forward at the Big East tournament. Summers averaged 12.3 points and 4.7 rebounds on three consecutive nights in New York, joining Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert on the all-tournament team and putting to rest any talk of freshman fatigue.

After struggling in the team’s first two NCAA tournament games (11 points on 4-for-17 shooting), Summers was much improved last week in East Rutherford, N.J. Averaging 17.5 points and 6.5 rebounds while making five of seven 3-pointers, the Baltimore product earned a spot on the All-East Region team. Against North Carolina’s superb class of freshmen, it was Summers’ play in overtime that lifted Georgetown (30-6) to its first Final Four since 1985.

“No. 3 is a little bulk and a midrange game away from being unguardable at the college level,” an NBA scout said after watching Summers score 20 points against North Carolina and freshmen Brandan Wright (14 points), Ty Lawson (five points) and Wayne Ellington (five points). “He was the best freshman on the floor tonight.”

That’s high praise given Wright is considered a likely lottery pick in the NBA Draft.

In Saturday’s meeting with Ohio State (34-3) in Atlanta, Summers again will be the overlooked freshman, especially playing against Ohio State’s Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr.

And again, Summers couldn’t care less.

“They can have all the publicity,” Summers said. “As long as we’re winning, I’m happy.”

If that sounds curiously similar to the sentiments of another Georgetown forward, it’s no coincidence. Summers arrived at Georgetown idolizing fellow Baltimore product and former Syracuse star Carmelo Anthony and played AAU with his friend and former Connecticut player Rudy Gay. But he has since served something of a season-long apprenticeship under Green, the Big East player of the year.

“That’s why I wear No. 3, out of respect for those two,” said Summers, who still talks to Gay regularly. “Those guys are role models for me. …

“Then I got here, and Jeff kind of took me under his wing. He’s like those other two guys, a do-it-all forward and a perfect player to learn from. Patrick [Ewing Jr.] was always teasing me, calling me ‘Jeff Jr.’ or ‘Little Jeff’ because I was like Jeff’s shadow the first few months I got here. I just wanted to pick up as much as I could from him because I respect his game so much and really appreciated him going out of his way for me.”

There is one major difference between Summers and his mentor. Unlike Green, who was unselfish almost to the point of becoming passive throughout his first two seasons, Summers was assertive from the moment he stepped on the floor at Georgetown. He was a charging violation waiting to happen until well after Christmas and still rarely fails to launch Georgetown’s first shot each game.

“One of our coaches came up and asked me about that. He said, ‘You realize you take that first shot a lot?’ ” Summers said. “I know it, but I’m just trying to be aggressive. There’s a lot of tension out there at the beginning of games, and once you break the ice, it usually starts coming to you. So I guess maybe I’m that icebreaker.”

Green has encouraged Summers to shoot more, knowing the team needed an injection of Summers’ initiative. And nobody has been more excited with Summers’ recent leap in production and confidence than his mentor.

“DaJuan has really elevated his game of late,” Green said. “I think in Winston-Salem he struggled a little because it was his first NCAA tournament experience. But in the last two games, when we needed him most, I think he really found his rhythm and stepped it up and helped will this team to win. … He has a chance to be special because he’s such a tough [player to] guard.”

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