Four years ago, Jae Crowder couldn’t land a single college basketball scholarship offer out of high school. Thursday night, he fulfilled his dream of becoming an NBA player.
Crowder, the former Marquette University standout and reigning Big East Player of the Year, completed a stunning turnaround when the Dallas Mavericks picked him up in the second round of the NBA draft at No. 34 overall. The Cleveland Cavaliers originally drafted Crowder but sent him to Dallas as part of a five-player trade.
Dallas used its lone first-round pick to select 7-foot North Carolina center Tyler Zeller at No. 17 but traded the selection to Cleveland — as well as guard Kelenna Azubuike — for pick Nos. 24, 33 and 34. The Mavericks acquired Oregon State guard Jared Cunningham (pick No. 24) and Florida State center Bernard James (pick No. 33) in addition to Crowder as part of the deal.
The 6-foot-6, 240-pound Crowder averaged 17.5 points and a team-best 8.5 rebounds for Marquette last season. He scored in double figures in 31 of 35 games and was named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press.
Crowder’s rise from little-known high school prospect to college standout is well documented.
As a senior at Villa Rica High School in Georgia, Crowder averaged 18.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game but did not receive any college scholarship offers and enrolled at South Georgia Tech Junior College. After one season, he transferred to Howard College in Big Spring, Texas, winning National Junior College Player of the Year honors and guiding the team to a national championship.
Crowder averaged 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds during his junior season at Marquette under coach Buzz Williams and turned into the conference’s best player by his senior season.
Though Crowder is undersized for a forward in the NBA, his strength is undeniable. At the Chicago predraft workout earlier this month, he bench-pressed 185 pounds 20 times — more than any other player attending the workout.
Dallas finished the regular season 36-30 and earned the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, but the Mavericks were swept in four games by Oklahoma City in the opening round of the playoffs..