COLUMBUS, Ohio — Majoring in English has taught Henry Sims the value of rewriting, so the Georgetown senior appreciates what has occurred in his final season of basketball with the Hoyas.
Sims was determined to change his perception as an underachiever and not only become the player that others expected, but, more importantly, morph into who he knew he could be.
“It’s been a long, long four years,” the 6-foot-10, 245-pound center said. “It took a long time, and it took some growing up to do, before I could get to this point. It feels good to have that burden off my back and just play basketball.”
Sims is playing better than he ever has at Georgetown as the No. 3-seeded Hoyas (23-8) enter their opening NCAA tournament game Friday against No. 14 Belmont (27-7) at Nationwide Arena.
“I think he realized that the end was near in terms of his days at Georgetown,” Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. “I think his focus, attention to detail and his work ethic were much better this year, and he has seen the results.”
Sims totaled 42 points, 28 rebounds, eight assists and three blocked shots in Georgetown’s two Big East tournament games last week against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. He’s averaging career highs in points (11.7), rebounds (6.2), assists (3.5) and blocks (1.4).
His improvement is a big reason why Georgetown plans to do some rewriting of its own against the upstart Bruins, the Atlantic Sun Conference champions making their fifth NCAA tournament appearance in the past seven years.
The Hoyas haven’t won an NCAA tournament game since 2008. They lost in the round of 64 last year to VCU and to Ohio two years ago. They fell to Davidson in the 2009 round of 32.
“It’s in the past,” Sims said. “This is a new group of kids, new team, and we’re determined just to not let that happen again.”
Georgetown’s stout perimeter defense will be key Friday against Belmont, but so is the play of Sims against an undersized Bruins team.
“He presents a problem for us,” said Mick Hedgepeth, the Bruins’ 6-9 senior center.
Sims had his own problems to deal with entering his senior season with career averages of 2.4 points and 2.1 rebounds.
“The last three years, people thought I was just wasting a scholarship,” Sims said. “It was painful to go through that for three years, not living up to what I knew I could do. I had people chirping about me, and it definitely hurt me.”
Sims returned home to Baltimore last summer and stayed longer than usual to work on his game and soak up the wisdom of his mother, Brenda.
“She told me this is your last go-around,” Sims recalled. “She said you don’t want to look back and say I wish I would have worked harder and would-have, could-have. She basically put everything into perspective. I controlled my destiny.”
Sims maintained his focus when he returned to Georgetown for his senior season.
“Some kids, it takes a while for the light to go off,” Thompson said.
Rewriting, however, can be refreshing.
“I finally feel like myself as a basketball player,” Sims said.