Charles Nailen/The Hoya Sweetney shot the lights out many a time, averaging 22.8 points and 10.4 boards per game as a junior. He was the only player in the nation to be ranked in the top 20 in both scoring and rebounding.

At first glance, it’s tough to discern the track superstar, Fulbright scholar or artistic genius from the average Joe or Jane Hoya wandering through the halls of Healy. One of Georgetown’s finest standouts, however, is not so inconspicuous.

An imposing 6’8″ tall, men’s basketball junior forward Mike Sweetney garners attention wherever he goes.

Big Mike turned heads even before he suited up for his first game as a Hoya. After averaging nearly 25 points and 13 rebounds per game as a student at Oxon Hill High School, Sweetney was an All-Met Player of the Year for Maryland.

Since signing with Georgetown, Sweetney has worked to improve himself and his game. “He looks for what he needs, and he adjusts and goes and gets it,” Michael Hall, sophomore guard Drew Hall’s father, said. During his freshman year, he led the team with 12.8 points per game – but Sweetney knew he could do better. In three years at Georgetown, Sweetney has put up 1,750 points in 96 games. This season, he shot an average of 22.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. With those stats, he is the only player in the nation to be ranked in the top 20 in both scoring and rebounding, ninth in points per game and 15th in rebounds per game.

Sweetney’s consistency and reliability have been traits that were critical to posting many wins this season. “Whenever they needed a crucial point, he’d be in there to give you one, or he’d go to the foul line,” Hall said. Sweetney contributed 10 points or more in every one of his last 45 games, as well as having seven games with 31-plus points.

“If you give him the ball, he can score at will. If he’s got one man on him, he’s going to beat him. If he’s got two men on him, he’s going to beat them,” Kevin Braswell (COL ’02) said of Sweetney during the 2001 Georgetown Media Day.

His size and talent may make Sweetney appear imposing at first glance, but the 2003 NIT All-Tournament Team member is actually a very soft-spoken leader both on and off the court. His quiet demeanor is what led him to be a co-captain this year. “I think that in his sophomore year, Mike did not speak and exert his will on the team as much as he should have. I made him a captain so he’ll have to talk this year. I think he has leadership abilities, he just needs to speak up more,” men’s basketball head coach Craig Esherick said during a preseason conference in November.

Sweetney’s reserved nature was most evident during the press conference after the West Virginia game on January 12. Esherick went on his now-famous tirade saying, “[T]o expect ike Sweetney to put up with the kind of contact that he has to put up with in the post when he goes up to shoot, and to put up with the contact that he has to absorb and deal with . and not have a referee call a foul, and then watch our perimeter people get called for hand checking every time we put our hands on somebody else, to me, is just absolutely crazy . I will pay a referee to sit in the post and have someone beat the crap out of him and see how he likes it.”

“My reaction is to keep playing through it,” Sweetney said following the incident. “[Esherick]’s right. There are fouls being missed, but I can’t do anything about it. If they don’t call the fouls, you just keep playing.”

“He’s one of those guys that doesn’t talk just to hear himself talk. When he speaks, you listen,” Hall said.

That quiet leadership can be seen in the classroom setting as well. “He is quiet in the classroom setting, but is diligent and conscientious about his work,” Shelly Habel, one of Sweetney’s professors and director of the undergraduate sociology program, said. “He’s the kind of student who, when he isn’t performing as well as he wants to be, asks what he can do to improve, and then does what he needs to do to rise to the next level.”

And the next level is calling. On April 10, Sweetney declared himself eligible for the NBA draft. His decision, however, is not final. If he does not hire an agent by June 19, he has the option to rescind his eligibility.

The Georgetown campus has spent a great deal of time debating Sweetney’s prospects in the draft, as well as pleading with him to stay. As the days count down until the 2003 NBA draft, the support from the Georgetown community is unquestioned. “He’ll be greatly missed,” Habel said.

“In whatever he does, I wish him well because he’s one of the nicest people on earth,” Hall said.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.