Since the college basketball season is officially over for Wake Forest we will begin our recap of the year, and that starts with looking at players individually to see how they performed, and what can be expected of them moving forward.
It is Mr. Crawford’s birthday, so we will start by assessing his season and what he is capable of doing during his junior season at Mother So Dear.
Crawford became just the third Wake Forest player since 1990 to average 15 points per game and 5 assists per game, joining Chris Paul and Randolph Childress. Obviously that is pretty great company to be a part of.
His 182 assists in a year are the 5th most in that timeframe (behind Ish Smith and Chris Paul twice). His 32.7% assist rate was 42nd nationally.
He averaged 2.3 turnovers per game, which in an up-tempo offense (Wake averaged 70.4 possessions per game, rankings 58th nationally), is very good.
While John Collins was otherworldly efficient based on his usage rating (he was the most efficient player in the nation by more than 3 rating points), Bryant Crawford was also very good by any standard, much less to play in the ACC.
He ranked 4th in efficiency in the conference behind: Collins, Zach LeDay, and Bonzie Colson. That’s also very good company.
A lot of this was due to his free throw percentage jumping from 68% to 82% from his freshman year, which allowed him to stay aggressive and get to the line five times a game.
Despite having a great year Crawford was left off of even an Honorable Mention list when the All-ACC teams were announced. This is quite frankly possibly an even bigger snub than John Collins getting 2nd in ACC POY voting.
His 20 point, 10 assist game in the NCAA Tournament was somewhat overlooked because Wake Forest lost, but it was the second of his career (LSU this year as well).
Crawford elevated his game as a sophomore to one of the best point guards in the ACC, and will be one of, if not the best returning point guards in the ACC and the nation should he return to Wake Forest.
That leads us into the next facet of the article, which is what Crawford will decide to do. He doesn’t appear on many draft boards right now and would likely benefit from another year at Wake Forest. It would not shock me if he declared for the NBA drafts to get out in front of GM’s and scouts before returning to Wake for his junior year.
There are definitely things that he can continue to improve on. Despite his low turnover rate, he still makes questionable decisions and can disappear at points during the game. I would love to see him work on being more aggressive early on in the game and try to get to the basket.
While his flashy passes don’t irritate me as much as they do some Wake fans, I do think that he could benefit from the game slowing down a bit more and making the easier pass instead of going for the highlight reel play every time.
The biggest deficiency at this point is his defense. He struggled to stay in front of his man consistently throughout the year, which led to a lot of issues behind him. I do not claim to be a basketball savant, so I’m unsure of whether that stems from lack of lateral foot speed, effort, defensive positioning, or all of the above, but it is something that has to improve.
If he works on his defense, and continues to improve at a rate similar to the jump he made from his freshman year to this year, then he will show many media pundits that they were wrong to not include him this year, as he was more than deserving of a spot on All-ACC lists.
He is without a doubt our starting point guard next year, and will be a leader on the team. If Collins leaves then there will be a big whole to fill in terms of scoring, and I believe Crawford is more than capable of filling that with more points and assists per game.
I look forward to seeing him next year in the Old Gold and Black and think he can put up a year that will force people to recognize him as one of the better guards to play for Wake Forest.