Summer School: DaJuan

After time spent home in Baltimore, DaJuan Summers back working in Auburn Hills

DaJuan Summers' goal this summer: to get better and come back ready to help the team a better season.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images
Editor’s note: will track the off-seasons of 2009 draft choices Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers and Jonas Jerebko as they prepare for their second seasons with the Pistons. In the first installment, DaJuan Summers tells editor Keith Langlois what he’s been focused on since his rookie season ended.

I just got back into town late, 2 in the morning on Monday, and I’m here in Auburn Hills for a week before I go back home to Baltimore for my little brother’s graduation from middle school, Malik Thomas, and for my son’s first birthday, DaJuan Jr. He’ll be 1 year old on June 24. I’ll be working out all week here before heading back home.

When I first got home, I took a week or so off to chill with my family back in Baltimore, see some of my old friends, reminisce. After that, I just got back to working at my old high school, the McDonough School in Maryland, doing a lot of drills, getting up a lot of shots, going one-on-one full court just to get my wind up. For next season, I want to be a little faster and quicker.

I work out with my cousin, Calvin Dorsey. He’s always with me. He played basketball in high school and he’s skilled enough to play one-on-one for conditioning purposes. In a typical week, I play five days a week, weekends off. But sometimes on Saturdays, I go into the gym and don’t do drills, just go up and down. I get in the gym at about 11 and leave at about 2.

My emphasis is on conditioning, ballhandling and doing everything with the ball. I try not to do anything without the ball. Some guys do standard conditioning, up and down, but I try to do everything with the ball. In a game, everything revolves around the ball. So I’m trying to get my skills up with the ball.

That’s one thing I learned after one year as a professional, having a year under my belt, seeing, learning, I found out there what I need to do. The coaches here have given me the freedom to work on my game, knowing what I need to do, and when I’m in here we just do the things we would normally do during the season before and after practices.

I feel like the game is so much more mental at the NBA level. Everybody is skilled at this level. It’s just a matter of knowing what to do, how to do it, when to do it. And the only way you get to that point is being comfortable, having a lot of repetition. It’s a matter of continuously doing what I’ve been doing, but doing it at a high level and for longer and just doing it so it becomes second-nature, so I don’t have to slow myself down by thinking, so that it’s a natural reaction.

I knew my first year was going to be tough. Just looking at physical specimens like LeBron or Kobe and seeing how they do their off-season work, by word of mouth and actually be seeing some of those guys. I knew how hard it was going to be. But this year, I know now as a player. It’s not just me watching somebody else. I’ve actually experienced it now as a player. So it’s a little bit different.

Even though I came into the NBA at a pretty good place from a physical standpoint, in this game, the most important strength is to have balance – having body control. And I know our trainer, Arnie Kander, will attest to that. So just building core strength, getting my body strong, that’s what I focus on in the weight room. I’m already massive enough, as far as weight-wise, it’s just having control of my body. So I’m doing a lot of core strength, a lot of balance exercise, but not so much just lifting because I feel I’m already there.

I’m coming back to Auburn Hills the week before we go to Summer League and I’ll be working out with my high school trainer, Kyle Jacoby, before then. He was my first actual trainer, before I went to Georgetown. In high school, we were in there every day. We’d go in the morning and do weight training, conditioning, agility. He’s a one-stop shop. He actually has a gym back home now, too, so I’ll be working a lot with him.

This week I’ll get up a lot of shots and do a lot of conditioning. I haven’t done a lot with the ball yet here, but we’ll get to that.

My son’s birthday is the same day as the NBA draft. I’m a fan of the game and the guys who are in the league now. I watch them and study them. I’m aware of the guys who are coming out, but I couldn’t tell you everybody, one through 60, but I’m knowledgeable enough. I know that with the seventh pick, that’s right about in the range where my old Georgetown teammate, Greg Monroe, is supposed to go.

They haven’t asked me questions about him yet, but I know he has the potential to end up here because he has what we’re looking for, supposedly. But from my experience in the draft, it never goes as planned. You can never get too high or too low. You’ve got to stay even keeled and just be ready to deal with whatever happens. And you’ve got to put in your work during the summer because you have to keep getting better. That’s my goal this summer – to get better and come back ready to help us have a better season.