That opened three scholarships for the 2007 class. One of the three went to Cory Higgins, a 6-4 guard who played at IMG Academy in Florida this past season. Another was given to 6-9 forward Casey Crawford recently.
Crawford played high school at Blue Valley North in Overland Park, Kan., then was on scholarship last season at Wake Forest. He decided the program wasn't a good fit for him, and made public his intention to transfer following the season, eventually landing in Boulder. He will sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules, and be a third-year sophomore in the 2008-09 season.
BSN spoke with Crawford Wednesday.
BSN: Have you signed the papers to transfer to CU? Is everything official?
Casey Crawford: I'm not sure if they've gotten them yet, but I've signed them and sent them in.
BSN: Why did you decide to transfer from Wake Forest?
Crawford: I just felt like the style of play at Wake Forest wasn't for me. The head coach had a little different perspective on what he wanted out of me. The style they play there – the ACC is real guard oriented and he wanted a real run and gun style of offense. I'm not slow or anything, but I guess I didn't fit that.
He usually likes undersized 4 men. He likes 6-6, 6-7 4 men that are real athletic and real bouncy. I'm 6-9, or 6-10. I guess I didn't fit the mold of what he wanted that position to be. I would've gotten a lot more playing time next year but I just felt I wanted to strive and thrive in a program. And I wasn't going to be able to do that at Wake Forest.
I had a great time there and the coaches are great people. I just felt like it was better to go our separate ways.
BSN: What made you choose Colorado when you decided on a school to transfer to?
Crawford: Because I realized how much style of play was important to me, and how much a relationship with the head coach was important. The style of play at Colorado that Coach Bzdelik is going to implement is the Princeton style of offense. And I fit that style, I guess, a lot better than the style at Wake Forest.
And the relationship I had with Coach Bzdelik, and what I think Coach Bzdelik is like – he was a much better coach for me.
BSN: When did you first get to know him?
Crawford: When I was coming out of high school, he recruited me a little bit at Air Force. But I didn't really want to go the military route. Then Wake Forest actually played Air Force this year. I played 10 minutes (in the game). He saw how I played. Then once I said I was transferring, within a day or two he called my cell phone and asked if I was interested in Colorado.
From then on we built a pretty good relationship and I took a visit (in late May).
BSN: What did you do on your visit?
Crawford: I just pretty much went around Boulder and campus. Met with some professors, met the guys on the team. Ultimately, what impressed me the most is what Coach Bzdelik wants to do with the program and which direction he wants to take it. All the hopes and anticipation he wants to bring to Colorado basketball. I felt like I wanted to be a part of that.
BSN: Tell me about your game. How is it going to fit in what he does?
Crawford: He really emphasizes that he wants all his players to be able to dribble, pass and shoot, no matter what position they are, 1 through the 5. I guess the knack with me being a big man is I can shoot the ball really well, and I have a good feel for the game. Coach Bzdelik really likes that because he wants his 4 and 5 men to be able to shoot the ball from any place on the floor. He wants them to be able to dribble and be able to pass. I guess the fluidity about my game is what he liked the most, my ability to be versatile. I'm not just a back-to-the-basket kind of player. I can shoot and stretch the defense.
BSN: I've also read you have a physical style of game. You like to get in there and mix it up a little bit. Is that accurate?
Crawford: Yeah. A little bit. I've gotten bigger over the past year, so I'm able to do that more consistently and a lot better. I'm more productive in the paint. I've put on about 20 pounds and I can move people around a little easier in the paint.
BSN: How big are you right now?
Crawford: I'm about 235 right now. I'm almost 6-10.
BSN: You grew up outside Kansas City. You probably grew up watching Big 12 basketball?
Crawford: Yeah, it's was all I knew growing up. This is KU country. I grew up watching KU play, MU and K-State. I guess the chance to play at Colorado in the Big 12 in front of my family and friends was just something I could not turn down. It's just amazing.
BSN: Were you a Kansas fan growing up?
Crawford: I was when I was little. As I grew up and got into high school and realized I was going to play college basketball, but I realized I wasn't going to play for KU I thought I probably shouldn't be liking them as much.
BSN: It's probably going to be fun to play against them.
Crawford: Oh yeah. Definitely. KU is 20 minutes from my house. All my friends from high school go there. My mom is going to be able to see me play there. I just don't want to play them, I want to beat the Jayhawks. I know Colorado hasn't been able to do that for a while. I want to be able to bring that to the table.
BSN: You've got to sit out a year. What are you basketball goals while you sit out?
Crawford: I want to get very comfortable with the offense. I want to know things inside and out so that when I do play (in fall 2008) I will know the offense well. The Princeton-style offense has got a lot of little things to it that are hard to pick up. I want to learn that offense inside and out.
And I want to get a little quicker on defense. That was one of my weaknesses at Wake Forest – my lateral quickness on defense. I want to work on that a lot. Hopefully I can bring a lot to the table at Colorado.