Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) point guard Bryant Crawford is arguably the No. 1 class of 2015 recruit in the DMV area, but until recently the nearby university had only shown lukewarm interest, despite extending an offer. Now, what with Maryland losing Roddy Peters to transfer, Terps head coach Mark Turgeon and Co. are making a concerted effort to bring in a high school point guard -- and Crawford is one of their top targets.
"Once AAU season started up and they saw me play they got more involved. I know with the guys leaving over there they need a point guard, and they got back on me," said the 6-foot-2, 170-pound Crawford, who holds offers from UMD, UConn, Georgetown, Indiana, Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers, Texas, USF and Seton Hall. "And I'm cool with that. It doesn't really hurt them. There were a lot of schools that jumped on me late that I'm looking at, so I wasn't offended or anything like that.
"I thought it was kind of weird that so many people left there, but all it does is open up spots for people like me to take their place. So I just think Maryland is a good opportunity and a school I'm definitely looking at now."
Crawford said he's been in close contact with Turgeon and assistant Dustin Clark for the last several weeks.
"I think it's good they got back on me, and I'm going to be going up there for a visit sometime this month [June]," Crawford said. "Maryland is close to home, it's a school I know a lot about and have seen a lot of, and I like how they play a lot of guards and let them get up and down."
The Gonzaga floor general has been in College Park, Md., several times already. He's attended games at the Comcast Center the last couple years and has toured the campus and met with the staff before.
"It's a nice school for guards, and that's what I like about Maryland. But it's also a nice campus, a good fan base and a real nice arena," Crawford said. "I had a good time up there when I visited; it's a good vibe there. The coaches are good, and I like Coach Turgeon and Coach Clark. I think they're doing a good job."
Maryland seems to have made up serious ground for Crawford, but the Terps will have to deal with two primetime contenders in order to land the D.C. point. Villanova, which has offered, will receive a visit June 5, and Louisville is on the docket for June 11 (Crawford figures to pick up the offer while on campus). The Cardinals are considered the current leaders, though Crawford insists he has "no favorites at this time, but we'll see what happens after these next couple of visits."
"Louisville puts guys in the league, I like how they let their guards work in transition, how they get after it full-court, how they put guys who can score all around you [the point guard], and how they're a winning program," Crawford said. "Coach [Rick] Pitino is a tremendous coach and it's a very good program. I'm excited to get out there.
"Villanova is kind of the same thing. Their guards get up and down, it's a winning program, there's good tradition there, and I like the coaches. They do a really good job with their guards and develop them too."
Crawford, who has seen Rutgers, Penn State, Indiana, Maryland and Georgetown previously, will hit Maryland following the Nova and Louisville visits. But after that he isn't sure which schools he'll take in. In fact, it's conceivable he could halt his summer tour after the UMD trip.
"I've got to see what I think after these next couple visits, but if I see what I need to [at Nova, Louisville and Maryland], then I'll make my [college] decision this summer," said Crawford, who mentioned that style of play, coaching staff, player development, overall campus feel and academics would all factor into his decision. "But if not I'll take a few more trips, take it slow and see what happens later on."
This summer, following a junior campaign where he scored just over 10 points per game, Crawford has performed admirably with Team Takeover. He isn't sure how many points and assists he's averaging, but feels he's playing well.
"I'm definitely excelling at scoring, ball-handling, passing and cutting down on my turnovers," Crawford said. "But I definitely need to pick it up defensively."
Crawford considers himself a pass-first point guard, but he said he could fit into a variety of roles. He grew up watching old videos of Magic Johnson, while he favors Chris Paul among modern-day players, and said he tries to blend elements of their games into his own.
"How I play depends on the game and how we're playing. In some games I can be a pass-first point guard and get everyone involved. I can take advantage of defenses and find open guys in the lane," Crawford said. "But in other games I can take over and really score the ball if that's what's needed."
Crawford Has Terps Firmly In Play
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