"He is just a quiet kid, he always has been" explains George Ewing, Daniel's equally quiet father, following Duke's victory over Detroit Saturday night. "Daniel is a simple young man, he doesn't even have any hobbies really; he just likes to play ball."
Even prying to learn more about Ewing only yields that he enjoys hanging out with his long term girlfriend from high school, now a student at Baylor, who frequently makes the journey to North Carolina with Daniel's parents George and Brenda to attend his games.
"He hangs out with his friends, plays Nintendo, and goes to the gym," said the elder Ewing. "That's about it really."
It is likely Ewing's personality was the yang of the Willowridge High School Ying-Yang of TJ Ford and Daniel Ewing. A total opposite, Ford conducts himself very emotionally and flamboyantly on the court. As the saying goes, opposites attract.
Ewing, now in his junior year at Duke, is now one of three team captains who pride themselves in leading by example. Perhaps the most shocking thing about his MVP performance in the 2003 ACC Tournament was not so much his break out performance, but it was an incident that occurred with less than 10 minutes to go in the title game.
With Duke mounting a comeback against North Carolina State, fueled by J.J. Redick's hot hand, Ewing uncharacteristically turned to the Duke cheering section of the Greensboro Coliseum and threw his arms up in the air in hopes of inspiring additional noise from the Duke cheering section. This move, while not uncommon for many student athletes, was a completely out of character gesture for the usually reserved Ewing, who will gladly sign an autograph and chat with fans, but remains quietly aloof most of the time.
Do not confuse Ewing's silence with arrogance or cockiness, as such an assessment would be completely off base. Daniel is incredibly kind and generous with others, in fact, in my first official stay at Duke as a Durham resident in the Summer of 2002, Ewing stopped and spoke with me for a long time and invited me to watch pick up play later that day, he even advised me of a good place on campus to eat when I confessed my hunger and he directed me how to get there.
Ewing's impact was immediately felt in his first collegiate contest in Maui when he asserted himself as a quality third guard to back-up the extremely talented, yet depth free backcourt behind Jason Williams and Chris Duhon who led Duke to a National Championship in 2001. Who could forget the shooting clinic Ewing conducted late that season in the NCAA Tournament to rescue Duke from a feisty Notre Dame team that had Duke on the ropes when he scored 18 points, pulling down 6 rebounds and dished out 3 assists to help Duke secure the win. The performance earned Ewing the Player of the Game award by CBS.
Last season, his second in Durham, certainly had difficult moments for Ewing, who was not in the starting line up for much of the year. However, when Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski inserted Ewing back into the starting line-up for the ACC Tournament Ewing's performance secured his spot there for the remainder of the season. Ewing first scored 32 points against Virginia in a game that saw the Duke offense sputter. Then in a semifinal blowout of North Carolina, Ewing had a game high 19 points before helping Duke hold off a very inspired and hot NC State team in the ACC Championship game with 11 points to cap off a late season conference run, earning Tournament MVP.
Coming Thought In The Clutch:
Ewing is a big game player, he always seems to shine the brightest in games when he is needed the most and in games that mean the most. This can likely be traced back to his high school days when he and teammate TJ Ford, last years Naismith Award recipient for Texas, led their Willowridge High School team to two state championships in Texas in 2000 and 2001. Daniel took home the Most Valuable Player honors for Willowridge in the 2000 State finals, just as he did for Duke in the ACC Tournament in 2003. In Duke's 2003 NCAA tournament loss to Kansas, Ewing again asserted his big game nature by scoring 13 points, pulling down 3 rebounds, and adding 2 assists and 2 steals. As a freshman in the NCAA tournament, on a team that already had Chris Duhon and Jason Williams in the back court, Ewing still managed to average 9+ points per game and 3+ rebounds per game on the strength of 7 three pointers in 3 games.
The youngest of three boys in the Ewing Household, Daniel grew up watching his older brother Lorenzo play college basketball at Louisiana Tech.
"If only Daniel was as unconscious of his jumper as his brother Lorenzo was", stated George Ewing, speaking of his son Lorenzo's "don't think, just shoot" mentality.
An honor roll student in high school as well as a McDonald's All-American, Ewing is working towards an African American Studies Degree from Duke as well as a Markets and Management Certificate.
You can almost always find Daniel Ewing on a basketball court any time of the year at Duke. Just days after the 2003 basketball season ended, there was Ewing in Duke's non air-conditioned Card Gym, dripping with sweat, working improve his game. Then there was Ewing staying at Duke for half the summer to improve his skills as a point guard and play pick up basketball with his teammates. There was Ewing, while most college students were at a local watering hole on a summer evening at 10pm, he was intensely immersed in a scrimmage being viewed by Duke Basketball campers scrimmaging with the same fire you would see in a Duke vs. North Carolina match-up.
Ultimately this may be the season Daniel Ewing completely asserts himself as Duke's top option offensively.
"Hopefully we can bring back another ACC Title, another regular season Title and hopefully get back to the Final Four where everybody wants to see us," stated the humble Ewing in a summer interview.
Daniel, we'll see you there, but please, show us that million-dollar smile!
Dave Dixon is a Chicago native and graduate of Elmhurst College outside Chicago. He is 27 and has lived in Durham for one year. Dave worked at Coach K's camp this summer and attends over 20 Duke games a season as well as numerous practices and pick up games when possible.