Crews Control Set for Vols

Craig Brehon may be the nation's leading authority on celebrated UT basketball signee Duke Crews — not only was he the prized prospect's head coach for two years at Bethel High School, he coached against Crews when he played for archrival Phoebus High School, also located in Hampton, Va.

From either end of the hardwood, Brehon could clearly see a gifted player, blessed with a body by Adonis.

"Duke played in Pensgrove, N.J. as a freshman," said Brehon, "and his sophomore year he played here in Hampton, Va., for Pheobus High School, and we received Duke as a junior. So I've had him two years.

"When I first saw him as a tenth-grader he just had this body, an explosive basketball player with a tremendous body for a sophomore. At that point I knew he was going to be a special talent."

As he has grown to know Crews better, the coach's lofty original opinion has only been galvanized.

"Duke is a tremendous person first," Brehon offered. "His character is second to none. He has tremendous work ethic out on the floor. He's explosive in the paint and his upside is great. He's got a nice touch with the shot. He's physical in the paint, finishing against a lot of kids that are bigger as well as playing against smaller talent. I just think the future is bright for him."

At 6-foot-7, 235, Crews has the dimension and strength to pose a serious threat posting up, but his game really takes flight once he gets enough floor to take off.

"He has a quick release and a nice touch," said Brehon. "His range in high school, we pretty much limited him here to 12, 13 feet and in because we had some guards that could really fill it up, but he's just so explosive. His transition skills are excellent. He really likes to get out in the open floor and run the floor, and that's where he can create and do his most damage. He plays well above the rim and he's really powerful when he gets inside that paint with his finish."

Crews' ability to finish is due to his potent combination of mass, strength and leaping ability. Those talents should also enable him to make the adjustment to life in the SEC without the degree of difficulty most first-year players face.

"I don't know his vertical, but it's got to be over 40 inches, obviously," Brehon said. "He's got a 6-7 frame, strong legs, strong body, strong arms and he finishes like there's on tomorrow. He's weighing about 233, 234 right now. He works out with 250 (pounds) on the bench press, so he's a strong kid. Physically his body will deal with the rigors of SEC ball. He won't be out manned, he can deal with that. He just needs to work on the skill set with the ball handling and creating off the dribble, playing away from the basket, those kind of things. Body wise he's got that."

Crews averaged 17 points and 14.5 rebounds per game to pace Bethel to a 27-1 mark his senior season, with the loss coming in the Region semifinals by two points. Bethel hit only 8 of 21 from the foul line in that game and beat the eventual state champion in the regular season. Bethel went 22-4 during Crews' junior season.

Crews' accomplishments are even more impressive when you realize that he broke his hand early in the season and rushed his recovery in order to come to the aid of his team. He needs to work on his foul shooting but his field goal percentage is remarkable.

"Duke was 63 percent for the year from the foul line so that's an area he has to work on," Brehon said. "But being pounded on like he was and coming back from a broken hand early in the year, he really came back and was thrown into the fire without having any time to really condition and get his body where it was. But he acclimated real well. He shot 70 percent from the field which let's you know a lot of his shots were close to the paint."

It also let's you know that Duke Crews is very selective with his shot and willing to subjugate his game for the good of the team.


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