By Joe Henricksen

NU getting the whole package in Crawford

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By Joe Henricksen

When the final issue of the City/Suburban Hoops Report comes out early next week, Naperville Central's Drew Crawford will be the 2009 Hoops Report Player of the Year. In the 14 years of the City/Suburban Hoops Report there probably has not been a more nondescript Player of the Year Award winner than Crawford.

There were plenty of worthy candidates, including Waukegan's Jereme Richmond, Warren's Brandon Paul, Marshall's Darius Smith and Lake Forest's Matt Vogrich. In the end, though, no player did more for his team than Crawford. No player had a more profound effect on his team than Crawford. His supporting cast in comparison to the other four candidates didn't match up. He did more with less.

Crawford, after a stellar performance on the AAU circuit last spring and summer, emerged as a dominating force. Crawford, who is the Hoops Report's No. 3 rated player in the senior class behind only Paul and Smith, elevated those around him while averaging 24 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3 assists a game. He became a different player his senior year. He began to play with less restraint and was able to let himself go while still playing under control and unselfishly. He's more about substance than style with an old-school, mature game. He's secure, grounded and doesn't get caught up in the hoopla or having to "get his shots." Thankfully, Crawford never embraced the role of the modern-day prodigy.

The Hoops Report has the same feeling towards Crawford as it did when it went against the grain in 2000 and went with Richards star Dwyane Wade as the Hoops Report Player of the Year. That season East St. Louis Sr.'s Darius Miles, who was the Mr. Basketball Award winner, was all the rage, but it was Wade's heart, hustle, attitude, production and overwhelming upside that caught the eye of the Hoops Report. Wade, who finished seventh in Mr. Basketball voting that season, made it impossible to ignore him as the choice for Hoops Report Player of the Year. Crawford did the same this season.

The Hoops Report is not saying Crawford will develop and blossom in college to become one of the world's most dominating basketball players as Wade did, but the fans and media in Illinois don't realize just how good Crawford is and what his potential is. Honestly, it's too bad more people didn't get to enjoy Crawford's talents. He didn't play in marquee events or shootouts. He didn't play at Proviso West or Pontiac over the holidays. He's a special talent who has just begun to tap into his potential.

Before he's done at Northwestern he will be able to play any one of the three perimeter positions. He's got the size and great length at 6-5, along with the versatility, to become the ultimate threat offensively. He's improved his shot and shoots it with range. He's stronger and has the frame to add more weight. And he just has a calming presence about him when he's on the floor.

In 14 years of the City/Suburban Hoops Report and getting to know different kids, watching them play, seeing how they conduct themselves, talking with them, I don't know if there is another kid that is more mature, respectful and grounded than Crawford. When speaking with him you feel like you are talking with a 30-year-old rather than a teen. He just gets it.

Now Crawford, who is an elite student, is the prize recruit for coach Bill Carmody at Northwestern. Tavaras Hardy, who has become an influential assistant coach, played a big part in Crawford's commitment and with the recent recruiting success.

Securing Juice Thompson from Lincoln Park two years ago was big for the Northwestern program. Last year's recruiting class, highlighted by 6-9 John Shurna of Glenbard West and 6-10 Kyle Rowley of Lake Forest Academy, maintained the recruiting momentum. But getting Crawford, who chose the Wildcats over Wake Forest, was a recruiting coup. He's the potential difference-maker, the type of player who could develop into a legitimate star, a local icon fans can attach themselves to, which that program has so desperately been seeking.

Yes, there will be some pressure on Crawford in Evanston. The Hoops Report believes he will start from day one in Evanston and take over Craig Moore's position at the off-guard spot. However, Crawford will be coming into a situation where there will be plenty of veterans around him in guys like Thompson, Kevin Coble and the freshmen that earned significant minutes this past season. Plus, the intangibles Crawford brings will allow him to handle the early pressure. He will be a fun one to watch develop in his four years at Northwestern.

If you would like more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, call (630)-408-6709 or email hoopsreport@yahoo.com

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9 Comments

THIS MAY BE THE PLAYER THAT GETS THE WILDCATS OVER THE
HUMP, THE MORE THEY WIN THE MORE DREW CRAWFORD'S OF THE
WORLD WILL COME AND PLAY FOR THIS SPECIAL PRIVATE BIG
TEN SCHOOL IN EVANSTON!
DREW CRAWFORD BRINGS IT EVERY NIGHT, AND WITH THE COACHING
AT NU, HE WILL BE EVEN BETTER, CAN YOU SAY NU IS GOING TO
THE DANCE NEXT YEAR! I CERTAINLY HOPE SO!
CONGRATS TO DREW CRAWFORD YOU MADE AN EXCELLENT CHOICE,
A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN, YOU HAVE A SHOT AT PLAYING ON
MADISON STREET, WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT IF YOUR DAD WAS
OFFICIATING YOUR FIRST GAME IN THE LEAGUE!
HAVE A GREAT CAREER AT NU!
DID EVERYONE HEAR ABOUT THE YOUNG LADY MICHAELA JOHNSON
FROM MONTINI ORALLY COMMITTING TO U-CONN?

Great choice in Drew Crawford! This kid plays with so much heart and honestly took a team who without him wouldn't even be 500 to another level. Not only is he a talented player but he truly respects his coach, teammates and is an excellent student! Drew gets my vote!

Thanks for highlighting so well a player that was vastly overlooked by people and not talked about enough. Sounds like a terrific young man.

He is the chosen one. The one the Wildcats in Evanston have been waiting for. They have no idea what they have yet and how lucky they are, but he will bring NW to the promised land and more. It's too bad Weber had no clue about this kid - he should be wearing the Orange and Blue.

What is amazing about Crawford is that he is far from peaking. He hasn't even started to realize his potential. He can do it all already and he is one of those special players that can make all those around him better. He plays D, he shoots the 3, he drives, he skies, he rebounds, he dimes, he creates, he dunks. He's a leader. Teams would triple team him, and they could not stop him. Hoopsreport talks about Dwayne Wade. That comparison is not unrealistic. Athletic, basketball-smart, and skilled. The sky is the limit and he will not only be in the league one day, but will reach such lofty heights. He is the best kept secret in HS hoops nationwide, but soon they will know his name.

coachk....do you really think Crawford would have chosen the academically inferior Illinois when schools like NU and Wake Forest were pounding on his door?

Mike ... It's not like Illinois is a worthless education. And typically top players in Illinois, or anywhere in the country (great grades or not), prefer to play for a program with some sort of tradition and opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament.

I agree coachk. Illinois is certainly not a worthless education. I am extremely surprised that Crawford chose NU over Wake though, since they have the academics and the tradition of making the NCAA Tournament. I am very pleased with his decision though. I think NU is an up and coming program where he will get lots of playing time and, if successful, lots of national exposure.

This is a kid that is going to come back and haunt us. I'm sick of Weber losing out on the best recruits, but in this case there is no excuse. We weren't even aware of him and didn't even sniff. The only pass I give Weber is that Coach Hardy at NU was his AAU coach and so maybe no one, like Wake, ever had a chance.

I've seen this kid play multiple times and he's 10X the player that Brandon Paul is. Watch over the next few years while Crawford smokes Paul one on one. Don't get me wrong - I like Paul and I'm glad we have him, but Crawford is going to school him like he schooled everyone that tried to man up on him. I'm not saying Northwestern is going to pass us in the conference, but they seem to be bringing in some decent talent to complement Crawford with Shurna and Rowley. They haven't really stolen any recruits from us yet, but we don't need NU to be rising up and giving us problems down the road in-state like in football.

Agree with CRK. Illinois is a solid academic school. It's not like we're talking about an SEC or Big 12 program.

If a kid picked Illinois over a supposedly academically superior Northwestern, to play in the NCAAs and be surrounded by superior talent, it wouldn't be the first time. Who knows why he didn't pick Wake. Maybe too far from home? Wouldn't be the case for Illinois.

It's pointless to speculate now, but I think we'd have had a good shot if Weber had scouted him and went after him, but he didn't and I fear that will turn out to be a mistake. I wish him well at Northwestern though. They are lucky to have him, and after all they've been through, they deserve a break I guess. We can't win them all.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on March 25, 2009 9:40 PM.

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