Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Wildcat Roster Part 1: Drew Crawford

Here is some info on NU recruit Drew Crawford, I will have a similar write-up on Alex Marcotullo in the next week. At some point during the offseason, I will talk about all players on NU's roster both new and returning.

The sure signal that Northwestern’s recruiting efforts are improving is not the ranking of NU's recent recruits, though they are better, it is the schools the Wildcats are topping for their most recent additions. Last year, the Wildcats out recruited Louisville and DePaul for Luka Mirkovic and beat out Georgetown, Indiana, and Wisconsin for Kyle Rowley. This year the trend of NU beating out historic powers has continued with the signing of Drew Crawford. Crawford a 6-5 wing player from Naperville Central chose NU over Wake Forest, Oklahoma State, Loyola, and DePaul. Two of those teams were in the NCAA Tournament this year, and Wake Forest was ranked #1 early in 2009. In the past, NU wouldn’t have a pray of recruiting a kid who also received an offer from a team who held a #1 ranking during the season of that prospect’s senior year. A great deal of credit for Crawford’s recruitment goes to Tavaras Hardy, but we can’t ignore the fact Crawford told Illinois Prep Bulls Eye he felt most comfortable with Bill Carmody when comparing potential college head coaches. Clearly, Bill Carmody’s dry wit and intellectual basketball approach meshes well with the type of kids who want to attend Northwestern. Hopefully Crawford’s comfort with Hardy and Carmody will keep the young man relaxed as he enters NU with higher expectations than any NU recruit in recent memory.

Thankfully, aside from comfort with his new coaches, Crawford’s on and off the court performance indicate he will be ready to take on the challenge of leading NU into the NCAA Tournament. Crawford was named Illinois Player of the Year by the City/Suburban Hoops Report and writer Joe Henricksen makes sure to note how he impressed he was with Crawford’s maturity during their conversations. Henricksen also notes Crawford’s impressive numbers on the court as a reason to believe he will help NU instantly. As a senior at Naperville Central Crawford scored 24 ppg, pulled down 8.5 rebounds, and dished out 3 assists. It should also be noted, that according to all reports, Crawford is a very good passer who could have recorded higher assist numbers were it not critical to Central’s success that he score. Therefore, he should be able to play guard in the Princeton Offense. Aside from his ability to put points up, Crawford will help NU defensively. With his length, Drew might give NU the option of playing man-to-man defense depending on who else joins him on the floor. Also, he has the athletic ability to play either the top of the bottom of the 1-3-1 zone. Considering that Crawford will likely step in from Craig Moore, one might assume he will start games at the top of the zone, personally, though, I would love to see him play the bottom. Sometimes Michael Thompson is in position to contest three point shots, but simply gets shot over. At 6-5, and with great leaping ability, there aren’t that many guards who will be able to shoot over Crawford.

With the athletic ability discussed above, which allows him to get to the hoop on offense, and a pretty good outside shot, Crawford probably could start from day one. Whether he will or not probably depends on the vision Coach Carmody has for next year’s team. Does he want to start Jeremy Nash to try and establish defense early, or will Crawford’s multiple offensive skills move him ahead of the NU’s only senior guard. Personally, I like Nash’s role as it is, but if he improves enough offensively that teams have to guard him on the perimeter I can deal with him starting. Besides, if he does start, Crawford will provide an offensive spark off the bench which has been rare at Northwestern. Whatever his role, I expect Drew Crawford will be an instant contributor and fan favorite at Welsh-Ryan Arena come November of 2009.

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