Duke On "Crews" Control

Duke Crews, a 6-foot-6 ½ power forward out of Hampton Bethel, says Xavier is still chasing him harder than anyone else but more schools are popping up on his list.

Willard Crews has no idea where his nickname "Duke" came from. He's not interested in knowing why his grandmother tagged him with the nickname that has morphed into, in his mind, his real name Duke Crews.

"Never asked her," Duke said of his grandmother. "I've been called that since I was in kindergarten. I don't even right my real name on top of my papers in school anymore."

Well, next fall when it comes time to sign his national letter of intent he's going to have to take out a pen and ink his full name on the dotted line because since the Boo Williams Invitational, he's been hot.

Though he's just now breaking through the national consciousness, Crews has considered himself a stud for a long time. "The players always knew I was a little underrated. As far as the players, we've been playing against each other when I was 14, when I first started playing basketball. I built a reputation with the players then but as far as rankings, I'm building that reputation now."

Is he ever? With a powerful and athletic game inside, he's a monster on the glass and a strong finisher. Basically, even though he's a tad undersized, he's more productive than kids three inches taller and that's his niche: production.

It's that "production" that has led schools to pony up offers. Head coaches from Xavier, Virginia Tech and St. John's are chasing him.

However, the Musketeers were there first and they've got his ear. "Before the circuit started a lot of people were playing it by how I was going to play throughout the summer," Crews said. "But Xavier, from Day One, they told me I was their guy."

Crews recently took a visit to Xavier but said the remainder of his trips would have to wait. "It's not going to work because we play every weekend from now on. I'm going to go on the rest of my visits in the fall."

Xavier, Miami, St. John's, Cincinnati, Illinois, UConn, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Georgetown, Clemson, Florida State, Rutgers and Virginia Tech are giving chase.

So, what's he looking for?

"I think it's somewhere that I can impact and play immediately," Crews said.

To impact as a freshman, Crews feels like he's got to diversify his perimeter package.

"I've got to expand my game also. That's what I'm doing now and it's working. I need to be able to step out to 15 feet to make myself a whole lot harder to guard. That's what I didn't do a lot during Boo's tournament but during the last tournament I did a lot."

Whether or not Crews ever is able to knock down perimeter shots matters little to the guys recruiting him. They're on the young man because he brings attitude, athleticism and intensity to a frontcourt.

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