With the 34th pick of the 2012 NBA draft, the Dallas Mavericks selected forward Jae Crowder, making him 33rd Marquette player to join the exclusive NBA pro ranks.
Crowder transformed himself from a little known high school prospect, to a lightly recruited junior-college guard, to the 2012 Big East Player of the Year and a 2nd team AP All-American in a four year time-frame, impressing coaches and analysts everywhere with his ferocious and physical play, despite size limitations.
The Villa Rica, Georgia, native averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.1 assists this past season, helping to lead the Golden Eagles to its second consecutive Sweet 16 appearance. Basketball-Reference gave Crowder 8.1 Win Shares for this past season, sixth best in the country and the best mark in Marquette history since the statistic was tracked, besting Dwyane Wade’s 2001-’02 mark of 6.8.
His bulky stats only tell half of the story, however. Crowder was one of the most efficient players in the country, finishing eighth in Ken Pomeroy’s player of the year standings. He rarely turned the ball over, finishing 21st in the country in turnover rate while picking more than his fair share of pockets. Crowder finished the season with 88 steals, good for fifth best in Division I last year.
Though Crowder’s height may have prevented him from rising higher in the
draft, he is not a player that relies on height and athleticism to thrive. As Wages of Wins wrote back in April, ” If you’re looking to draft a skilled, versatile forward who has excelled in doing all the little things that will help your team win, take a good look at Jae Crowder.” (To see how highly the folks at Wage of Wins regard him, check out how they predict him to fare at the next level. That’s second best in the entire draft, for those of you who did not click.)
Former Marquette assistant Aki Collins described Crowder as a well-grounded individual who was the consummate teammate who came out of no where to dominate the Big East.
“If I told you I expected it, it means I’m going to play the lottery tonight. No way, no how,” Collins said. “Thought he was a good player, but after we lost (first round draft pick) Jimmy (Butler) I didn’t think we’d see another player have that type of impact on both ends of the floor. And here we are a year later and Jae does the same thing.”
Collins added that some of Crowder’s even keel demeanor and pro-mentality can be traced directly to his lineage.
Jae’s father, Corey Crowder, was also an NBA player, playing 58 games in the League between 1991 and 1995 and having a distinguished career oversees.Much like Jae, Corey was undersized in college. At 6-foot-5, he played power forward at Kentucky Wesleyan from 1987 to 1991. His junior season, the Panthers won the Division II National Championship, and a year later the elder Crowder was named National Player of the Year. He played for both the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs for one year, and spent 12 seasons overseas.
To learn more about the strong relationship between the two, be sure to check out Mark’s award-winning feature from March.
And in case you truly have been slow to hop on the crowded Crowder bandwagon, here is the can’t miss story of his recruitment to Marquette from Rob Dauster, now of CollegeBasketballTalk of NBC Sports.
Crowder has put in the work, helping him to become the second strongest player at the combine, putting up 17 reps at 185 pounds. The best is yet to come.