“Kevin a le profil ideal pour reussir.”Kevin Braswell has the ideal profile to succeed.” So says a Belgian online newspaper about the now-graduated Braswell (COL ’02). The former Georgetown point guard now plays for Tournai-Estaimpuis in Tourani, Belgium. His double-figure scoring totals and high assist average have caught the attention of the foreign media. But Georgetown has hardly forgotten the four-year starter.

“Kevin would compete every night. Not to say that Kevin was perfect. He was one of the most competitive players we ever had,” Head Coach Craig Esherick said.

Braswell played every game of his four-year college career. He is the Hoyas’ all-time leader in assists and steals. More important than his statistics though, were his leadership and his focus on the floor.

“Kevin never hung his head when we were losing. He always wanted to win,” sophomore guard Drew Hall said.

Hall has had to focus on Braswell’s play quite a bit of late. He, along with freshman Ashanti Cook and sophomores Darrel Owens and Tony Bethel, is vying to replace Braswell as the Hoyas’ floor general for the 2002-03 season.

Braswell was also known for his selflessness and leadership. Before he left, Braswell was able to pass on some advice to his future replacements at the point guard position.

“He taught me tricks of the trade and what the position was like at the college level. He also taught me how to be a leader on and off the court for my teammates,” Hall said.

Leadership is one of the determining factors Esherick will consider in making his choice of a starter this year. The Hoyas are without the luxury of Braswell at the point. The squad, however, does have a depth at the position that it has not enjoyed for quite some time.

“I’m comfortable with the position. But we don’t know who the starter will be yet,” Esherick said.

Esherick and the Hoya coaching staff may not be sure who the starter will be, but they do know what the position will demand. The point guard position is perhaps the most important and multifaceted on the floor. Esherick understands this reality.

“The starter needs to score to take pressure off [junior forward] Mike [Sweetney] and [senior center] Wesley [Wilson]. The point guard also needs to demonstrate leadership,” Esherick said.

The concept of leadership is a more abstract idea than points scored or assists made. The starting point guard of this year’s team will face a number of challenges in games this season where success or failure is not measured in any number with the exception of the final score.

“The conference games and how we play at the end of the season are the real test,” Esherick said.

Georgetown has a number of tough road contests during the Big East season. Chief among these contests are games in Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The two squads sandwich the No. 2 Hoyas in the preseason Big East coaches’ poll. Ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, the Panthers have recently become a thorn in the side of the Hoyas. Georgetown’s rivalry with No. 3 Syracuse is historic and understood on the Hilltop.

Hall has had experience in some big games for this team. Last year he played in every game, averaging five points in an average of 20 minutes per game. Hall earned perhaps his most valuable game experience playing in last year’s Big East tournament

The Hoyas were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the tournament in an 84-76 loss to Miami. Although Hall’s 18 points and four assists in the two contests were valuable to the team those two days in March, his experience in the postseason is quite valuable to this year’s squad.

“I think that last year Drew played a lot of minutes against good opponents. But that is different than being the guy that leads the team,” Esherick said.

Hall understood that his role would increase with Braswell’s departure. The sophomore worked on his game and other aspects of his role with the team to respond to this demand on his play and his leadership ability.

“Drew also did some important things to improve over the summer,” Esherick said.

Hall made an effort to be more vocal and stay in contact with his teammates during the break. The guard also felt he had some physical work to do to improve.

“I worked on strength and weight. There are a lot of bigger point guards in this league and I needed to add strength to compete,” Hall said.

Hall understands the competition he faces and knows who he will have to guard this year. The sophomore, however, remains more focused on refining his game than preoccupying himself with the opposition.

“I don’t focus that much on the opposition. I try to play with our guys and get the win,” Hall said.

One of Hall’s teammates at guard is the explosive freshman Ashanti Cook. Cook won the California State Championship as a senior along with fellow Hoya, freshman forward Brandon Bowman. The two newcomers paced Westchester High and hope to take the same competitive edge to the Hilltop.

The Hoyas exhibition game to start the 2002-03 season was Cook’s own exhibition of quickness and scoring ability. The freshman started his first collegiate career 7-10 and at the end of the 132-58 blowout Cook totaled 17 points and nine assists.

Cook made excellent drives to the basket in the exhibition, often taking on two and three defenders and converting.

“Ashanti is an excellent scorer,” Esherick said.

Cook’s speed and ability to get to the basket gave him and his teammates the ability to score a staggering 132 points. He clearly shows the scoring ability that is a large part of what Coach Esherick is looking for from the position.

The obvious concern over Cook’s lack of collegiate experience is not one to be overlooked. Cook’s experience, however, on one of the largest scholastic stages the United States has to offer, lends to his potential in the clutch.

“All of us bring a lot to this team. Drew, Ashanti, [sophomore] Darrel [Owens] and myself,” sophomore guard Tony Bethel said.

Bethel, like Hall, has had a year of Big East experience to learn the ropes of the college game. In his first year, Bethel averaged 30 minutes per game and scored 20 points twice en route to averaging 10.1 points per game.

“My experience with the team last year taught me a lot about how to play in this league. It also taught me how to balance books and basketball,” Bethel said.

To compete for the starting position this year and play a larger role on the squad Bethel attacked workouts over the summer. Like Hall, Bethel took to the gym to bulk up and compete physically with the other guards in the league. Bethel’s training, however, had another important but less physical aspect.

“I worked a lot on learning the offense from the point guard position,” Bethel said

Bethel also brings tenacity to the position reminiscent of Braswell.

“He is very serious and committed to the game. He has always had a lot of heart. I’ve never seen him back down,” Hall said.

Sophomore Darrel Owens, unlike Bethel and Hall, has not had the opportunity to test his skills in a game situation. Owens sat out last year because of academic ineligibility. This season will be the first opportunity for the second year guard/forward from Louisiana.

One of the main ways Owens differs from his backcourt teammates is simply by his presence. Owens stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 210 lbs. The size concerns that Cook and Hall addressed this summer were not a large concern for Owens.

Another strong aspect of Owens’s game is his versatility. The sophomore has the agility and athleticism to play both guard positions and the small forward spot. Another strong part of Owens’s play gives him an extra advantage at the point in addition to his size and versatility.

“Darrel is one of our better passers,” Esherick said.

Whether it is passing, toughness, scoring or experience, each of the potential starters has his own individual skills. It will be, however, the most composed player, who earns the position that Kevin Braswell held for four seasons.

“With Kevin I knew that I wouldn’t lose the game on the ride over or in the locker room,” Esherick said.

Esherick never had to doubt whether or not Braswell was ready to win. This year’s starter must inspire the same confidence under the same microscope of Big East play.

“These guards will face those same challenges he faced,” Esherick said.

Those challenges figure to come in the form of Big East competition. But with this year’s strong non-conference schedule, things will move a little faster. Without Braswell to lead this year’s team how will the Hoyas fare? What is Braswell’s take on the Hoyas’ point guard situation after his departure?

“Kevin called the other day to check in,” Esherick said “No comeback plans though.”

Bonne chance, Kevin.

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