Joe Crawford Scouting Report

It is often said that looks can be deceiving. Well, that certainly rings true when speaking of Joe Crawford. He's a very quiet and reserved looking kid. However, one would be hard pressed to classify him in such a manner after watching one of his ferocious attacks to the basket.<br><br> New pictures plus comments from Vince Baldwin and Durand Walker.

Joe Crawford's game can be described in as little as two words, power and explosion! This is a player that , when on his game, can abuse his opponent with drives into the lane and electrify crowds with his explosive dunks. He has a scorer's mentality and the basketball skills to back it up. His AAU Coach, " Durand "Speedy" Walker, from his summer league team "The Family" commented, "Joe can flat out score. He NEEDS to score! He's just a phenomenal athlete!" His scoring prowess was on full display in every game I attended. He scored over 20 points on each occasion, despite having to face more than one player a great deal of the time. He has a powerful 6'4" 205 lb. frame, and is extremely strong for a high school junior. Those two traits allow him to absorb blows and still get his shot off.

Joe takes it to the hole

Joe with the leaner

A player of similar build is Michigan State's Kelvin Torbert. He too was an explosive leaper and scorer on the high school level. Those things have caused some to make comparisons between the two. However, there are some very significant differences. The first is Kelvin spent a lot of time in the post area in high school. He also wasn't a player that created offense off of the dribble a great deal. Joe-Joe, on the other hand, has a face up, dribble drive game. He is very adept at driving and pulling up for a leaner in the lane, or taking it all the way to the hole for the easy (and sometimes explosive) deuce. In either case, he has the uncanny ability to draw contact and finish. If one is looking for the staple to his game, that is it. He'll have Stackhouse like numbers when it comes to free throw attempts. When describing Joe's game, Vince Baldwin added, "I think Joe Crawford has a game a lot like JR Rider without the attitude and off the court problems. I think he's a tremendously strong athlete that will punish opponents with his ability to get to the basket and finish, or jump over them and shoot. I also think he's a good but not great outside shooter."

Joe takes contact in the lane and gets off the shot

Joe at the line

Crawford's jumper, in my opinion, may be the most underrated part of his game. In the four contests I've seen he has displayed a nice stroke from deep. His range forces his defender to have to come out on him. When they do that, they are at his mercy. While his crossover isn't the "UTEP Two-Step", he's very effective at creating space with it. His hesitation dribble may be even more potent. His efficiency with those dribble moves and his quick first step are very effective tools at getting him by his opponent.

Joe with the hesitation dribble in the picture on the left and the crossover in the one on the right

As was the case with Mailk Hairston, Detroit Renaissance Coach Mark White has helped to improve Joe's dribbling and passing skills by teaching him the point guard position. He has even used Joe exclusively at point guard during games toward the end of the season. However, that's not something we'll probably see him do on the college level. In reference to that possibility, Vince said, "he's a better ball handler than most people give him credit for, but he still needs to improve on that. I think that Dion Harris is much more adept at being a backup point than Joe Crawford would be. Joe Crawford is a finisher…. he's a scorer…. and he's an explosive player that you want at the end of your break, not necessarily one you want starting it."

Joe running the point

Joe takes it up strong!

The outstanding potential possessed by Crawford is clear. His summer AAU performances had many contending that not only was he the top jr. player in the state, but that he was the top jr. shooting guard in the nation! According to Coach Walker, the one part of Joe's game that he must work on most is his intensity. "He needs to play with more energy and stamina on more a consistent basis. If you ever see Joe-Joe Crawford playing on top of his game then you would walk away saying that there's no one better."

Joe with another leaner (over big Anthony Sparks)

Joe-Joe is a huge piece to the future team that Tommy Amaker is building. This homegrown talent has the ability to help take this team to new heights. With the excellent coaching and high level of work that he puts in, there's very little doubt that his game will continue to grow before he gets to Michigan, and well beyond.

(Vince Baldwin is THE source on high school basketball in the midwest region. For instructions on how to obtain his print publication and/or to view his online content, visit him at Prep Spotlight)

The Michigan Insider Top Stories