His inside-outside play could open doors

Boys basketball: McDonogh forward DaJuan Summers is regarded as one of the best juniors in the state, and his skills could land him on the doorstep of a Division I school.

High Schools

February 16, 2005|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

DaJuan Summers' mother, Twana Summers, claims that her youngest son, 8-year-old Malik, can tell you what his older brother is going to do each time down the court. It's the kind of information opponents would love to have on the McDonogh junior.

"Malik can tell you every play what his brother will do before it happens," Twana said.

If his opponents have a clue, it's not evident. DaJuan, 6 feet 9 and 225 pounds, has a soft and accurate shot from the outside and the quickness and explosiveness to score from the inside with an assortment of dunks. He is averaging just more than 20 points per game and gives star power to the fifth-ranked Eagles (21-5), who open the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs at home tonight.

Many national recruiters and publications, including Maryland Prep Hoops.com, which featured Summers on the cover of its magazine, consider him one of the top juniors in Maryland.

"DaJuan is easily among the top 100 juniors in the nation, and I think with DeMatha's Jeff Allen [6-8] ranks as the best juniors in Maryland," said Tom Strickler, who covers the Mid-Atlantic area for Eastern Basketball and National Recruiting Service.

"He is another in a long line of great players to come out of Baltimore. And what a transformation he has made into a power forward. He can take a shot off the dribble, and uses his body well when he takes a defender to the basket. After seeing him as a sophomore, then late summer with Cecil-Kirk [Amateur Athletic Union team], I saw a player passing and shooting. What a transformation in just a matter of months."

Division I schools, including Maryland, are interested in Summers. McDonogh coach Matt MacMullan has been contacted by Georgetown, Florida State, Miami, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Notre Dame and Connecticut.

Steve Keller, publisher of National Recruiting Report out of Neptune, N.J., sees Summers as "the best junior in Maryland who is underrated on the national level."

"Some people don't realize how good this kid is. I see him playing in the ACC or Big Ten and eventually becoming a star," Keller said.

He is not underrated at McDonogh.

"Clearly, DaJuan has the most natural ability and talent of any junior we've had," said MacMullan, who is in his eighth season as Eagles coach and has three former players currently playing Division I basketball.

"DaJuan has definitely had the best junior year of anyone we've ever had."

This week's MIAA A Conference tournament, with the semifinals at Villa Julie on Friday and a 3 p.m. final on Sunday, will be the last chance for the recruiters to see Summers as a junior.

McDonogh earned the third seed and will play 10th-ranked Archbishop Spalding (21-10) at 5 p.m. today.

The Eagles are contenders primarily because of the play of Summers, who is averaging 20.4 points and 12 rebounds per game after averaging 11 points and six rebounds as a sophomore.

He worked hard in the offseason to improve his overall game, playing for the Cecil-Kirk team of coach Anthony Lewis. It's the same AAU team that Archbishop Spalding's Rudy Gay played on before deciding to attend Connecticut, where he is currently starring.

"They have similar styles, similar rankings at this time [of their careers]," said Lewis in comparing Summers to Gay.

Lewis said Summers is the 57th-ranked junior overall and 19th at his position by Rivals.com, which is about where Gay was as a junior before he moved into the top 10 before the start of his senior year.

Could Summers reach that level?

"Possibly, the signs are there for him to take it to the next level," Lewis said. "He's a great kid with a great work ethic."

Summers knows he benefited from the summer work.

"I played on the wing with Cecil-Kirk and started shooting more and being more aggressive going to the basket, attacking the rim better," said Summers, who played in the Nike All-American Camp, the Nike Jamboree and the 17-and-under Showcase.

"I grew about three inches and put on 15 pounds and did well at all of those camps and people started noticing me."

Summers' idol is Carmelo Anthony, the former Towson Catholic star now playing with the Denver Nuggets.

But Summers says his single mother, Twana, is his "role model," because of "her work ethic." She works for Safeway and has dedicated her life to her children, DaJuan, Malik and 19-year-old Regina Summers, who is a graduate of Walbrook High and currently the No. 2 debater on Georgia State's team.

"My mom has taught me that you have to work hard to succeed and to be well-mannered," DaJuan said.

Most of McDonogh's scoring last season was done on the perimeter by then-seniors Justin Drummond, Corey Davis and Jon Brick and freshman Malcolm Delaney, who transferred to Towson Catholic this year.

This season, McDonogh's go-to guy is Summers, who, like Anthony, has developed an inside and outside game.

"We definitely saw DaJuan as our No. 1 option going into this season, and we had high expectations for him," MacMullan said. "He's more than lived up to those expectations."

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