A savage passion for basketball

At a young age, Kethan Savage said his father put a basketball into his hands, sparking a love for the sport that the high school senior almost struggles to put into words.

Basketball is the only game he’s held onto for his entire life, Savage said, the only game that sparks his blazing streak of competitiveness.

It’s the game that’s helped carve his path to being the first 2012-2013 recruit commitment for the Colonials. And the Episcopal High School guard is already prepared to take the court with GW, where his father and the rest of his family, whom Savage calls his true support network, will be able to watch the Alexandria, Va. native play.

“I hate losing with a real passion, so I’ll do whatever I need to do to help my team win,” Savage said. “If not scoring, rebounding. If not rebounding, defense. I’ll do whatever my team needs.”

His team mentality is evident on the court, Jim Fitzpatrick, Savage’s Episcopal coach, said. A hallmark of Savage’s play is the connection he creates with his teammates, Fitzpatrick said, a bond that becomes tangible on the bench and during play.

Fitzpatrick also often pushes his guard to lead in a more vocal manner. In huddles, the coach said, he’ll often call on Savage to determine what play the team needs to run, a way of pushing Savage into a leadership role.

“In my system, as a point guard, you have to be able to run the show and direct the team,” Fitzpatrick said. “His leadership abilities are strong, and I’d challenge him to be more vocal because he’s such a great teammate and friend.”

Savage also pushes himself, determined to work his hardest to find success. He’s billed as a strong, athletic guard who can apply pressure and quickly cut through the lane and is known to attack the basket, pushing himself physically on the court.

Though Savage says he wants to spend more time in the weight room to be ready to compete at the collegiate level, Fitzpatrick champions Savage’s natural strength, pointing out the ease with which he is able to withstand pressure from opponents on the court. Fitzpatrick estimates Savage finished with averages around 17.6 points per game, four assists and five rebounds last season.

“He is extremely quick but also has the ability to be powerful and explosive,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’ve never had a guard that attacks the rim and finishes as well as he does.”

Savage is more critical in his examination of himself, indicative of the constant desire in the back of his mind to do more, push harder, play better. His scouting report says the point guard’s jump shot needs work. His coach said he didn’t want talk about Savage’s shot to become a trend, emphasizing that all players making the switch to collegiate ball need to step up their shooting. But Fitzpatrick said the guard needs to have the confidence and ability to knock down a shot with ease, every time to be a formable guard in the A-10.

It’s that confidence and ability that Savage is determined to work on before he takes the court for GW. He said he will focus on skill work, and that he learns more every time he works with his coaches.

Savage was originally recruited by former GW head coach Karl Hobbs while visiting campus last year. But when Hobbs was dismissed last April, Savage said the recruiting momentarily tailed off while the program found its footing under new leadership. It was only a minor interruption, one Savage said he didn’t pay much attention to.

He said he feels close to GW’s coaches, impressed by their phone calls and the efforts they made to attend his AAU games.

“GW did a great job recruiting me,” Savage said. “They made me feel like they really wanted me to be there and they really needed me. I need them, but it seems to go both ways and I felt like I would be a piece to the puzzle to start back out with a winning program.”

Savage knows the Colonials are looking to become a powerhouse team again. GW tied for fourth in the Atlantic 10 last year but fell in the first round of the conference tournament. Savage said he knows Lonergan wants to bring GW back to the top of the A-10, and back to the NCAA tournament. He said he want to be a piece of the team that realizes those goals.

“The GW program, I feel like I could come in and help out,” Savage said. “I’m really looking forward to the fans and playing college basketball. I’ve been dreaming of it my entire life.”

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