Aggressive Sewell makes HCC go Guard is part of Old Mill quartet

February 22, 1993|By Tom Worgo | Tom Worgo,Contributing Writer

A glance at the Howard Community College men's basketball roster at the beginning of the season and it seemed to resemble an Old Mill High alumni team. The roster contained five former Patriots.

Three of those players come off the bench for the Express -- Nijui Truesdale, Ray Fountain and Shawn Craig. A fourth player, Eric Sheppard, left the team earlier in the season.

But the star of the group is Damion Sewell. The sophomore two guard has been a key in keeping HCC ranked among the top 10 nationally among Division III junior colleges. Sewell, who has helped the Express record a 49-11 record the last two years, is averaging 19 points, three assists and four rebounds this season.

"He's probably responsible for those other kids coming in," HCC coach Wheeler Brown said. "When a kid has a favorable experience he will tell others."

Sewell, 19, has played some of his best games on the road this season, scoring 25 points in a 77-70 win over Montgomery-Germantown on Jan. 20 and 22 in a 93-80 victory against Montgomery-Rockville on Feb. 3.

"I knew he was capable of doing that," Brown said. "But it's been a pleasant surprise and I knew we needed those type of numbers from him to be successful. But he's going to have to turn his game another notch for us to be successful in the Region XX tournament [Friday through Sunday] and to make the national tournament."

Sewell started last season as a key reserve, and he became a starter at shooting guard 12 games into the season, averaging 11 points, four rebounds and 3.5 assists.

"He went through an adjustment period," Brown said. "A lot of kids that come in take a while to break out of their old high school habits. Damion always showed flashes of being able to do things well -- shoot and handle the ball. We could tell he was a good athlete, having good court savvy and awareness."

Despite cracking the starting lineup, Sewell's game needed improvement in dribbling, defense and looking to shoot more. To correct the dribbling problem, Sewell would perform drills on his own last summer two to three times a week. This season, he's continued the drills. And during every practice, HCC spends 20 minutes working on defense and it has, Sewell said, improved this area of his game. As far as offense, Sewell has been looking to score more.

"He knew to be more aggressive from an offensive and defensive point of view," Brown said. "With Damion, you had to ingrain in his mind to shoot the ball."

Sewell said: "I knew I had to score more this season and play a little better defense. The drills helped me a lot because my left hand was weak. Now, I am more comfortable and able to see the court better."

In high school, he attracted the interest of several four-year schools: York College, Frostburg and Salisbury.

Sewell, however, decided to go the community college route. Frederick Community College topped the list because the school came highly recommended by Old Mill coach Paul Bunting. But one week prior to starting school in September of 1991, Sewell's housing fell through.

Then Sewell's cousin, HCC point guard Brian Parker, a sophomore and preseason junior college All-American, advised him to attend HCC because of the budding men's basketball program.

"The coach [Brown] told me they had four starters coming and he said I could come off the bench and give the team some positive minutes," Sewell said. "I wanted to go to a junior college to improve my game before going to a four-year school. I just wanted to gain some experience and I thought it was the best way for me."

At Old Mill, Sewell averaged in double figures his last two years. He garnered honorable mention all-metro honors in 1991.

"When I came into the program, me and a lot of others turned it around," Sewell said. "Every year I was on the varsity, we made the playoffs."

Four Division II schools have expressed interest in Sewell: East Stroudsburg, Newberry, Bloomsburg and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

"I think he could probably play at a lower- to mid-level Division I school," Brown said. "I think he can play at Towson, UMBC or Howard."

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