Marquette Head Coach Buzz Williams picked up another commitment this week when Jae Crowder, a 6'6 forward from Howard College decided to continue his basketball career at Marquette University, adding another critical piece to Buzz Williams' Golden Eagles puzzle.
Crowder didn't take the typical path to get to Marquette, after a strong high school career at Villa Rica High School, Crowder enrolled at South Georgia Tech where he was named the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year as a freshman. But, after South Georgia Tech's non-accredidation, Crowder had to move on, and finally found a home at Howard College. Taking a long and winding road to get to big time college basketball, Crowder was excited with his decision. "How does it feel? WHOOO!! Yeah, it feels good. It feels really good."
Crowder was being recruited by many schools, but says that those on him the hardest besides Marquette were Texas Tech, UNLV, Georgia and Illinois State. With a list of suitors like those listed, why Marquette? "I decided to pick Marquette because of the school and the basketball program, but he biggest reason why I selected Marquette was the coaching staff. They really knew and understood my situation. The way they recruited me, right from the start, they did things the right way.I really liked the way they made me feel."
The lead recruiter in Crowder's recruitment was Marquette Assistant Coach Scott Monarch. "Coach Monarch was really down to earth. He was straight forward, he came to me and told me the way things were, there was no going around the tree. That's how he was from the beginning. I knew him from when I was first recruited in college, so he understood where I had been and what I had dealt with."
Buzz Williams made a very similar impression on the 6'6 forward. "Buzz is another one of those guys - straight forward. He's been coaching for 16 years and he came from nothing. He started as a manager and swept floors. He knows and understands my position, he knows where I came from because he went through the same situation. We had a good connection right from the start."
The Big East played a big role in Crowder's decision, and having played in the NBA, Crowder's father helped him understand what it means to play in the league. "Me and my dad talked about the Big East quite a bit. He made sure I understood that the Big East is one of those conferences where every team, on every night, is capable of beating any other team in the conference. Everyone can beat anyone and they bring it every single night. I understand that, and that is what I want, to play against the best competition, so I feel the Big East is a perfect fit."
Averaging a double-double on the season, the Villa Rica, GA native is rated as one of the best Juco power forwards in the nation, so what is it that has him playing at such a high level? "I have a strong outside-in game. My biggest strength would be my mid-post ISO type of game. I can really get to the hole from the mid post. I shoot pretty well and have a good handle on the ball. I can bring the ball up the court - obviously I won't be doing that at Marquette, but having done that shows that I can handle the ball. I use my body pretty well, and I can really draw the foul."
Crowder has a strong work ethic, and feels that will help him adjust when he arrives at Marquette. "I feel my game is pretty good, but you can never be satisfied. There is always work to do. I need to work on my shooting. I feel I have improved every year in all aspects of my game, but in the Big East its all about defense. I need to work on my on the ball D."
With college coaches telling him and recruiting analysts writing about how good he is, how does Crowder think his teammates view him? "I would think they feel I am really someone they can depend on. They know I am the type of guy that is going to show up every night and give them my best. I think they would view me as a leader, both on and off the court."
With Jae Crowder, Marquette is getting someone who knows what it takes win, someone who knows how hard he has to work to succeed. And Crowder knows what Marquette fans will expect of him. "I can't wait to see the atmosphere at the Bradley Center. I can't wait for the season. I hope the Marquette fans will take me in with open arms because I am ready to give them everything I have."