NBA Draft Blog Interview with Jae Crowder

There is no word that is more inaccurate and misleading in basketball than the word “tweener.”  For those who don’t know it, basically it is a player who for various reasons, physically, skill wise, etc., is considered to not fit the prototypical definition of their “position.”  Rather they are considered “in between” positions.  It’s pure nonsense.  Why am I bringing this up?  All year, the #1 “negative” I heard from people talking about the draft is that someone is a “tweener”; nobody more so than Marquette’s Jae Crowder.  Crowder is not a “tweener”; he is a player who has the ability to play inside and out, can defend multiple positions, and plays with an energy which can lift any team.  So, you can’t label him a shooting guard, small forward, or anything else.  That’s not a bad thing, and any good coach out there will find multiple ways to use him on the court.  Coming off a season where he was named the Big East’s Player of the Year, he led Marquette to their second consecutive Sweet 16.  Jae is in Miami now preparing for NBA workouts, including the NBA combine being hosted by the Nets this weekend, and I had the chance to talk to him about playing at Marquette, Buzz Williams’ influence, and more:

Jae on how his game developed at Marquette:

“My game developed to another level.  Coming in from Junior College, I just wanted to be a great teammate and do whatever task I was asked to handle.  It was a new situation for me, going from the main guy to adapting to a role.  I had to learn a whole new group of skills.  Defensively, I had to really work.  The whole Marquette game focuses around playing tough defense and I needed to do my part.”


Jae on the influence of Coach Buzz Williams:

“Coach Williams helped me to mature as a man, on and off the court.  He took me in, and I will tell you, I didn’t trust him as a coach that first year.  I trusted him as a person, but I was hesitant on the court.  When we made the Sweet 16 that season, it hit me, we did everything he told us we would do, and the trust kicked in.  Going into this past season, with that trust in place, I was going to believe everything he told us.  He stuck to his word from when he recruited me, and he became a father away from home for me.”

Jae on his strengths as a player:

“I can bring it defensively.  That’s what we are all about coming out of Marquette.  I think that being versatile on both ends of the floor is a big strength of mine also.  I can play inside-out, that’s a big key to the game.”


Jae on what parts of his game he still wants to improve:

“I want to keep improving on my perimeter skills, especially handling the ball outside.  I want to let the ball take me wherever it wants to take me, meaning allowing my dribble to create opportunities for me to score or make plays.  I am also working on becoming comfortable as a 2-guard again, which is what I was before I got to Marquette.  Hopefully I can combine that part of my game with everything I learned after that.”


Jae on how the Big East shaped how he developed as a player:

“It was not what I thought it was going to be, it was much, much tougher.  Getting thrown into the fire, you need to really appreciate the teams and players in the Big East.  It made me a believer that it is the best conference in college basketball.  I had to escalate my game higher than it has ever been.  It kept me hungry knowing that I had to face the best every night.”


Jae on his role at the next level:

“I am a mature young adult and I feel that I can bring a sense of leadership wherever I go while learning at the same time.  If a team needs me to just key in on one specific thing, I can do that.  I can play a role like my first season at Marquette and I feel my game can adapt to any system.  Whatever is asked of me, whether taking a greater or lesser role, I know I can handle it.”


Jae on what he wants teams and fans to know about him:

“I am far more than your typical player.  I have a passion for this game.  I eat, sleep and breathe this game.  I grew up in this game. My dad played for the great Jerry Sloan.  But I am still learning. I am far from the player I will eventually be.  God has blessed me with my talent, and I am ready to give it to any team that gives me the opportunity.  If a team needs help, I would be a great fit for them.”

I want to thank Jae for his time and I wish him the best of luck as he looks to fulfill his dream of getting to the NBA.  I admit that even going into this past season, I was skeptical about how good Crowder was as a player.  Then I had the chance to see him play in person a handful of times this year, and you can’t help but come away appreciating how he plays the game.  He always plays hard, he is tough, but his game is a skilled game.  Each team he played, he would find a different way to help beat them.  I have no doubt that NBA teams and fans alike are hoping that he is coming to play for them.


Check back in the coming weeks for more great interviews and scouting reports as we head towards the 2012 NBA Draft.  Follow me on Twitter – @NBADraftBlog – for updates, leave your comments below, or feel free to email me at [email protected]