Criswell dominates in Iowa

Blessed with a bundle of skills and athleticism not often found in a 6-9 frame, it hasn't been a matter of if Leo Criswell was going to explode but when. For all intents and purposes that explosion finally came on a beautiful fall afternoon in Iowa City, IA.

Playing with his AAU squad KC Pump ‘N Run, Leo Criswell erupted for a monster day and led his team to four victories at the Hoops in the Heartland tournament on the campus of Iowa in a span of 10 hours.

Although his size suggests that he should spend the majority of his time in the paint, Criswell has natural skills on the wing and they were all on display Saturday. On several occasions he grabbed defensive rebounds and led fastbreaks before finding teammates with pinpoint passes. He found the bottom of the net with several long jump shots and time and time again he frustrated other big men with his ability to handle the ball.

At the same time, he didn't neglect his duties on the block where he spun off defenders for jams, blocked shots and went over anybody in his way for rebounds. After a couple of nice double-double type outings in the morning, Criswell really had it rolling in his third game.

In that game, he went off for 31 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three blocks and three steals. As impressive as that game was, Criswell saved his best for last.

In the nightcap against the Eastbay Extreme (a team that had beaten the Pumps by about 20 points on Friday night) Criswell put an exclamation point on his day. The stats of 11 points and 10 rebounds don't tell the story, a single play does.

With his team trailing by a bucket with just 9 seconds to go, Criswell corralled a missed free throw and gave the ball up to PG Antonio Hanson. When Hanson was trapped in the backcourt he gave the ball back to Criswell who split another double team with a sick behind the back move at full speed before pulling up from 22 feet and hitting nothing but the bottom of the net just before the final buzzer sounded to give his team a 67-66 victory. The shot, also moved the Pumps into Sunday's 8 am quarterfinal.

In reality, words don't do the play justice because 6-9 juniors simply don't make plays like the one he made to secure victory.

"I don't know what I felt when I did that. It's like I thought I was Jordan in 82 on that one," said Criswell. "I started out slow but I stepped up when my team needed me. I had to, it was do or die."

The slender Criswell, was also happy with his ability to bang against a 6-9 250 pound monster in the low post.

"People think because I am small (weight), that I can't hold anybody that big. I had to show that I could do it because he got the best of me last night." Top Stories