I was so impressed the first time I saw DaJuan Summers play, I had to remind myself to preface each bit of praise with, “Seriously, I’m not just saying this ’cause he’s going to Georgetown.”
(People who know me know I’m a G’town fan. No, I didn’t go to school there. But the Hoyas were my favorite team growing up, and since my alma mater, Seattle U, was D-2 when I went there, I wasn’t breaking any sports-fan rules by sticking with G’town as my squad.)
Anyway, the first time I saw Summers was at the ’06 Jordan Brand All-American high school game. Sharing the court with Kevin Durant, Thaddeus Young and Ty Lawson, Summers — a Georgetown commit out of McDonogh H.S. in Maryland — stood out because he did everything well on the court. He wasn’t as fast as Lawson, or as athletic as Young, and he couldn’t score like KD; he just did it all: handle, pass, rebound, play D, shoot, drive, score in the post, move without the ball … he even played hard and exhibited solid fundamentals in what was really a meaningless exhibition game. At the same time Jeff Green was turning into a star at Georgetown in John Thompson III‘s Princeton-like system, Summers seemed like a natural fit to be the next coming of Green.
It didn’t really work out that way. While Green won Big East Player of the Year as a junior and was a Top-5 NBA Draft pick, Summers never saw that level of success. As a junior this past season, Summers (13.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.3 apg) failed to lead G’town to the NCAA Tournament, and now a week away from the Draft, he’s slotted to go late in the first round of what is already being called a weak draft.
At 6-8, 243 pounds, with a solid pre-draft combine performance, Summers has the measurements for an NBA small forward who can slide to the four on occasion. And those all-around skills he showed in high school haven’t gone anywhere. He’s still got the talent to be a multi-faceted threat. So why isn’t he getting the same Lottery talk that Green got?
For one, Summers still hasn’t proven himself. One knock on Green early in college was that he wasn’t assertive or enough of a leader, but he answered those questions by taking his team to the Final Four and hitting some clutch shots in big games along the way. Summers was able to blend in next to Green and Roy Hibbert as a freshman, he was still the #2 option behind Hibbert as a sophomore, and then as the focal point of JT3’s team this season, his season ended with a first-round NIT exit. Summers often faded into the background in some of Georgetown’s most crucial games, too, like when he scored four points in a blowout loss to Louisville, or put up just nine points in a first-round Big East tourney loss to St. John’s.
Summers has enough size, skill and potential to warrant a first-round pick. Had he stayed in school for his senior year he could have played himself into the Lottery with a strong season, but for now he’s more likely to fall somewhere between 20 and 30.
Will DaJuan Summers be an impact player in the NBA?