A Q + A with First Round hopeful DaJuan Summers.
DaJuan Summers began his career right at Georgetown. He was a key contributor to the Hoyas’ Final Four run his freshman season when Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert were still in DC. Green turned in his books for the NBA at the end of the ’07 campaign, leaving Hibbert and Summers as the two main pieces of the puzzle. Georgetown finished a solid year in ’07-08, collecting a 27-5 regular season record before a magical Stephen Curry-led Davidson team bounced the Hoyas in the NCAA Second Round. Then Hibbert left, and it was Summers’ time to shine.
The Hoyas were a youthful group in ’08-09 but never really developed any chemistry, despite boasting a handful of McDonald’s All-Americans. Summers, a strong forward who can do a bit of everything, dramatically improved his shot selection and stepped his game up. Once the Big East schedule came around and the losses mounted, it became clear Coach Thompson was ready to hand his offense over to his young pups. Summers’ role diminished, along with his shots and minutes.
Luckily for the Baltimore native, his combination of size and skills are exactly what scouts look for in a combo forward. At 6-8 and a muscular 236 pounds, he has the body to muscle smaller defenders on the blocks, but also has the perimeter skills and athleticism to take slower big men off of the bounce. Summers still needs to convince NBA GMs he can play the wing on a consistent basis, but the package he offers has already firmly placed him in the late first round mix.
DaJuan sat down to discuss his pre-draft training, why he took off from Georgetown so early in the draft process, and the affect Baltimore natives Sam Cassell and Rudy Gay had on him.
SLAM: You were one of the first players to declare for the Draft this season. Why did you decide to announce so early?
DaJuan Summers: I wanted to let teams know I didn’t doubt my abilities as a top player in this draft. I felt we had a rough season, and I needed to get some attention back on myself in other ways. Not to mention it was best for me and family.
SLAM: What was the recruitment process with agents like?
DS: It was a tedious process. It took some time for me to meet people who I felt comfortable with and help me position myself best in this draft. I found that here with WMG [Wasserman Media Group].
SLAM: What is the main thing that you’re looking to show NBA scouts in the pre-draft process?
DS: My all-around game. Also, answering any questions they have with my game.
SLAM: Where are you training right now?
DS: I am in Santa Monica doing my training. All of the WMG guys come here to train for the pre-draft.
SLAM: What other players are you working out with?
DS: James Johnson from Wake Forest, Wayne Ellington from North Carolina, Gerald Henderson from Duke, Jeremy Tyler, KC Rivers from Clemson, Ryan Ayers from Notre Dame, etc. A pretty good group of talent.
SLAM: Speaking of Jeremy Tyler, what are your thoughts on him leaving high school a year early to go pro in Europe?
DS: I think he has great upside, he works hard, and wants to be great. If he stays focused I think things will fall in place for him.
SLAM: Is that something that you think anyone in your high school class could have done?
DS: I think my senior class was one of the best on recent history. Almost all of the top 15 in that class are in the NBA. So I think a few players in my class could have done that.
SLAM: James Johnson is a player in a similar position as you. He played a lot of power forward at Wake, but is projecting to play a combo forward role in the League. How has it helped you going up against a player like him who has a similar style of play?
DS: We both helped each other’s game. We motivate one another in drills to stay focused and when it’s time to play, we compete at a high level. As a result of that, James and I have become very good friends.
SLAM: What is the main area of your game that you’ve focused on improving?
SLAM: Give fans a day in life of DaJuan Summers pre-draft training process.
DS: I wake up around 8 a.m., get breakfast and head to the gym for two and a half hours. We have skill and weight training. We take a break until 4 p.m. or so then we are back to work again.
SLAM: What was the most memorable moment of your Georgetown career?
DS: Going to the Final Four my freshman year.
SLAM: How do you feel Coach Thompson prepared you for the NBA?
DS: He taught me what hard work was truly about. I will take that with me wherever I go.
SLAM: Tell me some of the feelings that you went through this season playing with practically all freshman and sophomores, after playing on such veteran-laden teams as you did your first two seasons?
DS: There were plenty of frustrating times. Everyone wanted to do their part to help, but it was a struggle to get everyone to realize we rise or fall together. But there were great high points this past season. It just wasn’t the outcome we wanted.
SLAM: What are you looking to show NBA teams the most in your workouts?
DS: My versatility.
SLAM: Many people doubt your ability to play small forward full-time in the League. Do you think you’ll be able to play the perimeter in the NBA consistently?
DS: Yes, I think I will be more than fine. There are many parts of my game people haven’t seen.
SLAM: What aspects of your game make you most appealing to a pro team?
DS: My versatility, the ability to defend and play multiple positions. Also the maturity I have playing college ball at a high level for so long.
SLAM: What style of play do you think would be the best fit for DaJuan Summers in the NBA?
DS: A team that runs transition, but also slows it down in the half court to get a bucket.
SLAM: Being from Baltimore, you guys have had a lot of NBA ballers come out lately. Tell me about the relationship that guys like Sam Cassell, Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay have with some of you younger guys.
DS: They motivate us to do well. They also give us hope because we see people from the same streets we are from accomplish something that so few people have the chance to do. It feels great to have the city behind us.
SLAM: Once you get that first NBA paycheck, what’s the first thing that you’re going to buy?
DS: Something for my mother!