Many wondered who would replace Lazar Hayward, one of Marquette's all-time greats, when he eventually graduated from Marquette. Buzz Williams' answer? A player with identical measurements and similar skill sets in Jae Crowder.
Crowder, the reigning National Junior College Player of the Year, joins the Golden Eagles for his junior year after spending his first two collegiate years with South Georgia Tech and Howard College, both at the junior college level.
His decision to Marquette wasn't an easy one, but Crowder acknowledged the way Buzz Williams went about recruiting him stood out amongst other coaches vying for his services.
"I was getting recruited by a lot of division one schools," Crowder said. "I look at the difference between other coaches and Buzz, and it's the genuine style he has. He's telling you the truth, telling you what he wants from you as a player and a person. Every coach sounded the same except him."
Take one look at the 6-foot-6-inch Crowder in person and you can see where the Hayward comparisons come from. Watch him on the court and you'd think Hayward grew his hair out and came back for a fifth season.
Offensively, Crowder has the ability to play in the post, extend his range out to the three point line, handle the ball, and draw fouls by driving to the paint. Crowder wants to do whatever is best for the team and also crash the boards, just like another No. 32 who just graduated from Marquette.
"I just look at it as whenever my number is called I've got to come through," said Crowder. "There's going to be missed shots, so why not go get in there and rebound because that's one thing I'm good at? I'm just looking to accomplish those things."
And although he is a newcomer, Crowder understands and has witnessed firsthand that he must be a leader on the relatively youthful Golden Eagles team.
"I think the new guys do look up to me and I've gotten respect since I came here," he said. "And that was amazing. Coming from junior college level sometimes you have to earn that but it was already there for me. Still, I work for it every day like I never had it."
After successful seasons from JUCO transfers Darius Johnson-Odom and Dwight Buycks a season ago, Crowder knows expectations for him could not be higher. He should get an early chance to showcase his talent, as he is expected to fill the void left by Hayward in the starting lineup at power forward.
"A lot of people expect a lot of things from me being a junior and they're looking to see if I can do the same things as I did last year," he said. "I'm preparing myself and I have goals set out to accomplish and I need to follow through with them."
Crowder Looks To Fill Void
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