Sunday, November 25, 2007

Swoosh: Isaiah's Swann Song

This week's focus is on the Florida State senior guard Isaiah Swann. Seven games into his final season Isaiah is averaging a team high 16.6 points and 3.9 assists per game while leading his team to a record of 5-2. Swann has improved his game in almost every facet, the most noticeable being his three point shooting percentage. He shot a remarkable 41% from three last season with big Al Thornton diverting the defenses attention. This season, as the teams primary scoring option he is shooting a ridiculous 51% from the three point line. Let that register for a second. On the highest level of college basketball you can play he is making every other three point shot he attempts. That's incredible. If that's not enough for you he is also perfect from the free throw line this season making all 25 of his attempts.

As it might seem, basketball has always come easy to Isaiah Swann . Under coach Dan Harwood he lead Magruder high school (Rockville, MD) to a state championship as a freshman. That's right, as a freshman he was the best player on a Maryland State basketball champion. Apparently, as though he missed the memo on how to be a big time 15 year old basketball player, he was very humble as well. I got a chance to speak with coach Harwood and he told me one of his favorites stories about Swann took place back in 2001, just before Magruder would march through the playoffs for their first state championship. Harwood explained that Swann wasn't playing well defensively in a game against Blair High School, a week before the playoffs were to begin. As a result, he decided that he wouldn't start Swann for the next game but was apprehensive about the move because he wasn't sure how Isaiah would react. Could you imagine if the move didn't work, Isaiah nor the team took well to it, and they didn't play up to their potential? Fortunately for Harwood it worked extremely well. He said Isaiah was actually OK with the move to the bench and clearly the team was as well as they would go on to win it all. Coach Harwood added "The way he handled that. He's always been a great kid."

In high school, the only thing that could stop Isaiah from dominating on the court was his commitment in the classroom. You see, that 01' championship season at Magruder was his second attempt at 9th grade and he was forced to miss a large part of his sophomore basketball season due to academic struggles as well. It is hard to understand why the kid who Coach Harwood said 'worked hard on his game' and 'loved to play' wouldn't do all that he could to stay academically eligible. In fact, I decided to write this story because I remember reading about his issues in the Washington Post, the transfer to Oak Hill, then the move to Hargrave Military Academy, and wondering what would ever come of the talented guard from the DC area. Well I now have my answer. Isaiah Swann is an All-ACC caliber basketball player and most importantly he is scheduled to graduate from Florida State University at the end of this academic year. In addition I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that he will be graduating in good academic standing at FSU. To me this says that Isaiah has taken an improved approach to his education, not just doing the bare minimum to get by. Congratulations Isaiah. Coach Harwood, myself, and the entire DC area are proud of you. Keep doing your thing.

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