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Stronger, faster Crawford looking to build on All-ACC Freshman campaign

Wake Forest guard Bryant Crawford has been working to increase his strength and decision-making as he enters his sophomore campaign with the Deacs.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Bryant Crawford knows it won’t be easy to top a debut campaign that earned him All-ACC Freshman Team accolades.

That’s why he’s transformed his body with diet and workouts, and is continuing to focus on decision-making in practice.

His development will be key for the Deacs improvement.

“Coming from high school, I didn’t take weights serious. I ate whatever I wanted, whatever time of night I wanted it,” Crawford said. “I just feel like when I got here, I started taking my eating habits more serious and I’ve become more dedicated to the weight room. (Strength and conditioning) coach (Ryan) Horn does a great job with that. That’s a big reason for how my body has transformed.

“I feel stronger. I can hold my ground more. I feel like I can last longer in games, and can run up and down the floor longer. I don’t need as many breaks.”

Crawford was second in scoring last season for the Deacs (13.8 ppg) and led the squad with 133 assists. His 108 turnovers last year were at least partially due to his penchant for flash.  

“Being smart and making smarter decisions,” Crawford said when asked what he’s been working on. “Not always looking to make the home run pass. Staying calm. Keeping my teammates motivated. Not getting excited so much. Coach has talked to me about keeping my emotions down.

“Decision making. Knowing when to look to score and when to get my teammates involved. Not taking any plays off.”

Nobody would rightly accuse Crawford of taking plays off. He’s the ultimate competitor, and bristles at losing at anything, whether a practice rep against freshman Brandon Childress or playing checkers with his grandmother.

“I take practice serious. It’s competitive. I want everybody in there to know I’m the best player or they can show me they are. Practice is very competitive,” Crawford said. “Just knowing when to score and when to feed who’s hot is the key. We have a lot of shooters, a lot of scorers, so that’s something to pay attention to in practice.”

With a preseason foot injury to returning senior guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, Bryant was thrust into point guard duties at the start of the season. Now with Miller-McIntyre and forward Devin Thomas gone, the Deacs will have to replace that production this season.

“Codi and Devin definitely let an imprint on this team. We had guys competing against them in practice every day,” Crawford said. “With John Collins and Doral Moore competing against him every day, that made them better players and prepared him for this moment. With Sam (Japhet-Mathias) coming in, he’s been battling with Doral and JC as well. The competition in the gym has been at a high level and I think we’re going to be prepared.”

The Deacs got a jumpstart on putting things together with a 3-0 exhibition tour of the Bahamas in August.

“I feel like it helped us develop some chemistry. We have a lot of news guys this year, and with Keyshawn (Woods) not traveling with us last year, I feel like this brought us all together,” Crawford said. “Not only just playing basketball, but to enjoy the experience together doing other things with each other.

“A lot went to the beach. There were a lot of family members there, so just hang out with the family. Atlantis is a big area, so people tried to do as much as they could.”

The experience also tangibly visualized to Crawford that the Deacs have added more reliable perimeter shooting.

“It’s going to help us a lot. People won’t get to just pack it in the paint,” he said. “They will have to step to the perimeter on the shooters, which will open driving lanes off the pick and roll. It’ll get our bigs more touches.”

Crawford said he’s thankful for the first year and a half at Wake.

“You have a lot of people in your corner — a lot of supporters,” he said. “Whether you win or lose a game, Wake Forest fans support you no matter what.”

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