Men’s Basketball: Jae Crowder looks to move back to guard

Jar Crowder will switch back to guard before the NBA draft. Photo by Daniel Alfonzo/daniel.alfonzo@marquette.edu

Former Marquette forward Jae Crowder was known around college basketball as one of the hardest-working forwards in the country.

When his name is called on June 28 in New York City at the NBA Draft, however, the team that drafts Crowder will be adding a shooting guard to its roster.

The 6-foot-6 Crowder, who played shooting guard his sophomore season at Howard Community College, has begun training for the upcoming draft and is looking to move back to shooting guard at the next level.

“I want to play the ‘2,’” Crowder said. “Being 6-foot-6, being able to guard the post can be tough for you, and I don’t want it to be too tough.”

The process will require the 245-pound Crowder to lose 20 pounds over the next two months while also refining his current skill set.

While finishing up his final semester at Marquette, Crowder has been taking weekend flights to Miami, where he trains and stays with his father, Corey.

The three-day workout sessions include ball-handling, agility, shooting, strength and nutrition, all of which Crowder has specific coaches for.

The move to the perimeter will be a difficult one for Crowder, but it’s not the first time he’s done it.

“When Jae first came here, he didn’t have a good attitude about working,” junior guard Junior Cadougan said. “But once he realized that time was running out, he started to work hard. He started to be the leader on our team.”

Crowder admitted his focus and dedication lacked when he first arrived at Marquette. But an understanding of what coach Buzz Williams expected on a daily basis helped mold him into one of the hardest workers on the team.

“It was about buying into the program as a player and a person,” Crowder said. “When you transfer in, there’s going to be things you don’t like. Once I figured that part out, everything started coming naturally. It was a process, and me buying in helped me exploit my skills and exploit my talent.”

Crowder averaged 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds his first season at Marquette, one year after being named the junior college player of the year at Howard.

But increased responsibility as the team’s senior leader propelled him to new heights in 2011. Crowder exploded onto the national scene, averaging 17.4 points and 8.1 rebounds and leading Marquette to its second-straight Sweet 16 berth.

“It was hard for me to see when he had a bad day because he works so hard, regardless of the day,” freshman guard Derrick Wilson said. “We could play three Big East games in a row, and he’d still come out the next day and work just as hard.”

Crowder will likely be the third Marquette player drafted in the last three NBA Drafts, following Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler. But it was a conversation with Wesley Matthews, who went undrafted in 2009, that Crowder noted as most helpful.

“He reached out and told me once I get to workouts to just keep doing what I’ve been doing, do what I hang my hat on,” Crowder said. “Every guy has skill, can make shots and defend, but every guy doesn’t work hard each and every play.”

Crowder’s move from forward to guard will require hours of training, but if the last two years are any indication, he should have no problem accomplishing that goal.

“There aren’t many guys who can do the things I do,” Crowder said. “I’m trying to sharpen up each tool I have to be a guy the world has never seen before.”

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