When Hargrave Military Academy Coach Kevin Keatts first saw Jordan Crawford play at a pair of AAU events last summer, one thought came to his mind.
"The sky is the limit for this kid," Keatts said.
Sure, IU-bound guard from Detroit, Mich., had plenty of athleticism and the sort of versatility that makes him a candidate to play any one of three positions on the floor, but it was something else that stood out to Keatts.
"When I saw him play, I found out he wasn't afraid to take big shots, he liked to win and losing really bothered him," Keatts said.
Those traits made him a good fit for Keatts' Hargrave Military Academy team, one of the country's elite prep school basketball programs. It's the same place Armon Bassett refined his skills last year before arriving in Bloomington this fall, and it's a squad that features 10 players who have already signed or committed to Division I schools.
Keatts believes those same characteristics jumped out to IU Coach Kelvin Sampson and his staff when they decided to make the 6-4 Crawford the fifth and final signee during the early signing period.
"What I know about Kelvin Sampson, he likes to surround himself with tough-minded players," Keatts said. "They might not always be the most talented, but he likes kids who play hard and have a passion for winning. That's what stands out about Jordan – his ability to compete and win all the time."
Crawford has helped Hargrave get off to a fast start by leading the team from the point guard position. Keatts said he recruited Crawford as a point guard and he's quickly grown into that role after spending more time on the wing at the high school level.
Crawford has started all 16 games this season and put up a season-high 31 points in one game and had another contest where he had 15 assists.
"When he got here I thought he was more of a combo, but we've tried to groom him more into a point guard," Keatts said. "I like to take guys that can play different positions, and he can play the 1 or the 2. He's similar to Armon (Bassett). When Armon got here, he shoots the ball so well, sometimes (Indiana) pushes him over to the 2, and Jordan can do the same sort of thing."
But Keatts Crawford's point guard skills continue to blossom.
"The toughest part for any kid to make the adjustment to the point is thinking the position," Keatts said. "At that position, you have to quarterback, you have to make sure everyone is in the right place, you have to control tempo, you have to make sure everyone is doing what they're supposed to do. Know when to get a certain kid the ball, know when not to."
Whether Crawford winds up as a point guard at IU or at one of the other guard positions, he does offer the luxury of having another player on the floor who's capable of handling the ball, much like Bassett does right now for Sampson's 13-4 Hoosiers. Bassett ranks second on this year's team with 42 assists, and is the team's second-leading 3-point shooter as well (39.7 percent).
"It's a good problem to have when you've got more than one guy on the floor who can handle it," Keatts said.
Crawford hasn't received as much attention as the other four members of IU's top-five recruiting class, but don't presume that means he doesn't have a chance to be a contributor right away. Like Bassett, the time spent at Hargrave means Crawford will have a year's worth of play against top-flight competition under his belt, something very few college freshman can boast.
"You have to compete every day at a high level," Keatts said. "You might be the best player in the gym on Monday, and then turn around Tuesday and be the worst if you don't come to play."
Crawford Pointed in the Right Direction?
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