In reviewing the basketball career of Jae Crowder over the past four years, it is rather transparent that the bruising forward has not been coy about making his impact on the hardwood felt immediately.
Upon guiding South Georgia Tech Junior College to its first-ever NJCAA national tournament appearance in 2009, the dreadlocked Crowder averaged 18.9 points the following season for Howard College (Big Spring, Texas) as he led the Hawks to the school’s first national title en route to garnering 2010 NJCAA National Player of the Year accolades.
Three and a half weeks after claiming the aforementioned title, the 6’6”, 235-pound Crowder signed his National Letter of Intent to suit up for Buzz Williams and the Marquette Golden Eagles in the fall. Upon receiving the Villa Rica, Ga. native’s John Hancock, Williams, as reported by gomarquette.com, cited that Crowder, “fits a huge need on our team and we anticipate that he will handle that perfectly.”
And circle gets the square.
With a combination of unyielding effort, high basketball acumen and a relentless work ethic, Crowder, who turned 22 on Friday, hit the ground running upon settling into the Brew City.
After netting double figures in five of the first six games of his MU career, Crowder exploded for a career-best 29 points against the Mountaineers of West Virginia in his Big East debut on Jan. 1, 2011. During Big East play, Crowder, who was named the Times-Georgian Co-Player of the Year following his senior year at Villa Rica High School, averaged 11.9 points and accumulated a pair of double doubles.
Although the Golden Eagles’ season came to a disheartening end in the form of an 18-point loss to Roy Williams’ North Carolina Tar Heels in the Sweet 16, Crowder—who saw action in all 37 Marquette contests (starting in 17) and put forth per game averages of 11.8 points (good for third on the team), 6.8 rebounds (tops on the squad) and 1.3 steals while shooting 48.5 percent from the field—had indeed laid the foundation for what would be a memorable senior campaign.
During the Golden Eagles’ 10-0 start to the 2011-12 season, Crowder, one of only five Marquette players to eclipse 1,000 career points within two seasons, amassed three double doubles—he would finish the season with 14—while compiling a gaudy stat line of 17.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.6 per game. Additionally, the versatile Crowder shot 47.5 percent from the field, including 39 percent from beyond the arc.
As the stretch run of conference play gave way to the bright lights of March, Crowder played his best ball of the season.
Beginning with a 20-point, 11-rebound showing against Villanova on Jan. 28, Crowder collected seven double doubles over the course of MU’s final 10 conference games—headlined by a 26 point, 14 rebound effort during a Senior Day triumph over Georgetown on March 3—to help solidify a second place finish for the blue and gold in the Big East, their best showing since becoming a conference affiliate in 2005.
For his efforts, Crowder was the lone unanimous selection to the All-Big East First Team; a member of the AP All-America Second Team; and the 2012 Big East Player of the Year (the first MU player to snap conference player of the year accolades since Dwyane Wade in 2003).
Overall, Crowder, who averaged 19.0 points and 12.0 rebounds in three NCAA Tournament contests this past season, ranked among the conference’s top 10 in scoring (6th, 17.4 ppg), rebounds (9th, 7.8 rpg), steals (2nd, 2.42), field goal percentage (10th, .512) and made field goals (3rd, 192).
Three months after playing his final game for the Golden Eagles, Crowder became the 55th Marquette player to be drafted into the NBA as the Cleveland Cavaliers tabbed him with the 34th overall selection (his rights were subsequently traded to the Dallas Mavericks) of the 2012 NBA draft.
“We feel [Crowder’s] a multi-position player,” cited Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, as reported by ESPN.com. “He’s rugged, tough-minded, hard-nosed. We wanted to get some hard-playing, energetic guys in this draft to continue to work that culture here. High character kids who play hard and want to do things the right way.”
If history is any indication, chances are Coach Carlisle can anticipate having his expectations met this coming season by the rookie from Marquette.