DaJuan Summers on the Pistons and the Hoyas
In his three seasons at Georgetown, DaJuan Summers averaged 9, 11 and 14 points per game. By the end of his junior year, with the Hoyas in some weird freefall, he often looked lost offensively, scoring a total of 19 points in two late-season losses to St. John's. Something just seemed wrong.
Four months later, having been drafted early in the second round by the Detroit Pistons, Summers has emerged as one of the stars of the Vegas Summer League. He's scored at least 19 points in three of Detroit's four games. Wednesday against the Knicks, he went off for 26, including 22 in the second half. (See his full stats here.) He leads the Pistons in scoring, is third in rebounding, and has been one of the guys observers here are buzzing about.
"A pleasant surprise," said new Pistons Coach John Kuester. "Detroit was very high and surprised on DaJuan being available [in the second round]. And...coming out here and seeing him play, he's pretty good. He's pretty good. He did a great job of rebounding the ball. He's got to learn how to play defense a little bit better, as [do] most people making that adjustment from college to the NBA, but I'll tell you this, he's got some good offensive skills. He showed that he can shoot the ball and take the ball to the basket. I think he was very fortunate to play for John Thompson III, and John gave him an understanding of playing without the ball, too."
The Pistons wrap up Summer League play Friday afternoon; I caught up with Summers for a few minutes on Wednesday to talk about his scoring outburst out here, what went wrong with the Hoyas last year, and whether the Georgetown offense held him back. (Some of these questions were asked by other reporters, and I rearranged the order so it all makes more sense.)
It's just a different style of play. My college team was more of a slow it down, slower pace team. The NBA, you can't afford that. The shot clock's only 24 seconds, the games will have more shots.
But I guess it's a little bit surprising to see you going off like this night after night here, the way things ended at Georgetown?
Nah, I don't think so. From a player's standpoint, everybody on Georgetown's team can light it up and go for big numbers. You know that's not our style of play, and I think that's one of the biggest things that we talk about at Georgetown, our offense. Just like Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert, those guys went for big numbers in these Summer League games too; they probably averaged about 14 or 15 at Georgetown, just like me
Did you come in with that kind of chip on your shoulder, to prove the kind of player you know you are?
Not so much. I mean, I always knew I was that player, so just because things were different in college--it's not an open system and not a high-tempo team--it never discouraged me. I knew when I got here I would be able to play my game. Coach always said the same thing. It's just not the run and shoot we play at Georgetown. So nah, I don't feel like I'm proving anybody wrong. It's just me. I'm just playing.
Do you think that hurt your draft status though, the fact that you didn't have the numbers?
Yeah, but once you're here, you're here. There's a lot of second-round guys who come back and from a financial standpoint still make the same amount of money a first-rounders making, and have long careers. So if you can play, you can play. If you're willing to accept those challenges, you'll be fine.
Would you ever warn a high school kid against Georgetown for that reason, because they wouldn't get the numbers?
No, I would tell them just know what they're getting themselves into. Because it's a great program, you become a better all-around player. There's a lot of guys who go to schools and be one and done, and they're not all-the-way developed, they still have holes in their game. I don't think you can say, in recent history, anybody coming from Georgetown has holes in their game. We're solid players. You've just got to be smart. Most kids don't want to take that long route, but it's beneficial.
At the end of last year people were saying a lot of things about what was going wrong with Georgetown or why you guys weren't winning, people were talking about stuff in the locker room. What happened?
Just a young team. The way we play, everybody has to be on the same page at all times. I think people got accustomed to my freshman year, that team. My sophomore year we had some ups and downs, but we still won. All the games were close though. So my freshman year, we had so many veterans that knew how to play in the system day in and day out, that knew that when the shot clock got down to eight seconds, they wouldn't rush up or try to go one-on-one. We still played together. That was the biggest difference. We just didn't have enough veterans. Guys wasn't sure about how things were supposed to go.
How do you think they'll do this coming year?
I think it'll be fine. It's kind of funny, the team that we had freshman year, I think they'll have that same team. There's another year underneath their belts, they've got more experience playing in the big-time crowds, everybody knows what the pressure feels like, so I think we'll be fine.
Were there bad feelings inside that locker room?
No, we were close. It's one of the closest teams I've been on off the court. Everybody was cool. It's funny how things didn't translate to the court; sometimes there's not a direct correlation.
So all the stuff people were talking about, about a fight in the locker room and all that?
I don't know, somebody said something to me about that. It's funny, because you don't know where half the stuff comes from that you read. That's why you can't believe everything that you read. No, there was nothing like that.
I think some fans were surprised that you decided to go.
Somewhat. Me and coach talked about it. I felt like he gave me his blessings to leave. He felt like it was a good draft for me, but I was still bitter about it, because I wanted to go back and prove people wrong about how our season went last year, because we had a good team. And we still do. We would have had a great team if I had come back. They're gonna be fine either way, with or without me.
You were bitter that you didn't get a chance?
Not that I didn't; I had a choice. I wanted to go back. Coach told me not to make an emotional decision. I was on the fence about going back.
So what did he say?
He said he thought this was a good draft for me, from a position standpoint, my competition in the draft and things of that nature. But it didn't work out the way either one of us thought. It's still fine.
You thought you were going in the first. Yeah, without a doubt. But it didn't work out.
What was your reaction to going in the second?
I was disappointed. Clearly I didn't feel like there were 30 guys that were better than me in the draft, but it just happens like that sometimes. You can't let things like that set you back. It's another hurdle in life, another adversity. I've just got to get over it and keep working.
So do you think it's a sure thing you're gonna make this team?
I don't think anything's a sure thing. I thought the first round was a sure thing. I don't believe anything until it's actually concrete. That's just how I feel.
The situation you're walking into in Detroit where there is an opportunity for minutes, you still don't feel comfortable that you established yourself as a guy that's gonna be on this team come training camp?
Nah. I mean, I'm not telling you that just to gas you guys up. I mean, it's a lot of guys out here scoring points. The league I think has so many different things that come into play when you come to making a team. I'm not gonna be a guy that needs to score 20 a night for the Pistons this year. You know, so you've just got to keep playing, find your role and do that well.
Was there any point leading up to the draft or shortly before the draft or even while it was going on where you were sensing, maybe I'm not gonna be taken in the first round?
Yeah, when the draft started to go, the names started to go, I wasn't picked at 15, 16, I knew those two teams were looking for forwards, I was just like we'll see at 24 or 27. I didn't go there. My agent, he wasn't letting me know anything. I knew then. [But] It was all good.
Where'd you watch?
I watched at the ESPN Zone downtown [in Baltimore] with my family.
Was it kind of....
It's funny, because that's what I was thinking, I didn't want to be there and have everybody watching me and I'm just like ohhhhhh. But my family, they're so supportive man, so supportive. All my cousins, all my aunts and uncles, my mom, my sister, everybody was just there, they didn't care about second round. They called my name, the whole place erupted. It was good for me. It was good.
You look like you lost a little weight.
People have been telling me that. I don't know, I don't feel like it. I actually weigh more than I did in college. It's more muscle now, maybe?
It seems the path you've taken to get here, it's almost fitting that you were taken in the second round, where you have to kind of prove what you can do.
Yeah, that's fine. Most people run away from adversities or always want to take the easy way out of things. Not saying I wanted it to be this hard, but I'm no stranger to hard work, so it doesn't bother me.
July 17, 2009; 1:14 PM ET
Categories: College Basketball , NBA
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