Yesterday, in part one of our Q&A with former Northwestern star Drew Crawford, Crawford discussed the life of a D-Leaguer, the pressure of the Las Vegas Summer League, the story of how he nearly wound up playing in Israel, and more.
Today, in part two, he talks about what it's like rooming with Seth Curry and watching Curry's brother play on TV, how close he is to seeing his NBA drams come true, and his ongoing relationships with Chris Collins, former teammates and others at Northwestern.
Henry Bushnell: I was just looking through your [Erie BayHawks] roster, and there's a lot of names that I recognize from their college careers. Is it cool getting to play with guys who you were playing against in college? Or just with other guys who were big time players in college?
Drew Crawford: Yeah, that's something I enjoyed... That's something that's really cool about basketball, there's guys that you play against for a long time that can now be your teammates and the guys that you're bonding with on a daily basis. So I really enjoyed that. And not only that, just playing with a high talent level, and learning from those guys was something that I really enjoyed
HB: Who were you closest with on your team?
DC: I was real close with Peyton Siva. He was a good buddy of mine. He's a real good guy, and I learned a lot playing with him. He's extremely talented, and he's also a great leader. And he had the experience of winning a national championship. So being around him was really cool. And then Kadeem Batts and Seth Curry as well, because those were the guys I was with in Orlando, and throughout the whole D-League season.
HB: What's Seth Curry like?
DC: He's a really good dude. He's quiet, he's extremely humble, but also a really hard worker and unbelievably talented. And he's such a smart basketball player that makes guys better around him. I actually learned a lot playing next to him, just seeing how he plays, and the brains that he has on the court.
HB: Does he talk a lot about what his brother is doing?
DC: Yeah, Seth and I actually roomed, not only in Erie, but on the road trips, and that guy is a big time basketball junkie. We watched every game that was on TV, especially on the road, and every game that his brother played in, we were watching. It's pretty cool to see him cheering for him, and vice versa, because I know Steph always followed what we did as well, and what Seth was doing.
HB: With regards to your individual performance, were you pleased with how you played?
DC: Yeah. I think I had a good year. It was a learning experience for me, I was able to go and get that year of professional experience, and what it's like to play in an NBA system. And I think I had a pretty good year, I was able to score the ball pretty well, shoot a pretty good percentage, which is always important to me, and I was able to rebound the ball and work on my defense. So overall, I learned a lot, and I was able to be pretty productive this year.
HB: What have coaches told you are the biggest areas where they need to see improvement from you?
DC: My coaches this year really stressed going and finishing with my left hand around the basket. And in order to make an NBA team — because NBA teams already have scorers, they already have superstars — when you're trying to make an NBA team, you're not going to be the guy coming in taking a whole bunch of shots, so I have to establish myself defensively and be able to make those in-between plays, those hustle plays, and get defensive stops, and just be a solid guy that understands the system. So continuing to improve my defense — both team defense, understanding concepts, and then just individual, one-on-one defense — those things are really going to help me get to the next level.
HB: Did you feel that you were ever close to getting an NBA call-up?
[Between Crawford, Siva, Curry and Batts, only Curry got an NBA shot this past season, a 10-day contract with the Suns.]
DC: I think I was close. You know, it's hard to say how close you were and such, but I think there were stretches of the year where I was playing really well, and teams that needed wing players, I would like to hope that I was in the pool of guys being considered. It didn't happen for me this year, but I'm confident that I am capable of playing in the NBA. I'm just going to keep working, and be ready for that opportunity when it comes.
HB: Do you still keep in contact with coach Collins?
DC: I do. It's actually his birthday [this past Sunday], I've got to shoot him a text to say happy birthday. But throughout the year, he was following me, and of course I watched every Northwestern game that I could too. In between games, he would text me if I had a good game, and I would text him after most of the NU games, so we remained in touch. It's always good to hear from him, and I always like reaching out to him as well.
HB: And how about former teammates?
DC: Definitely. I would call guys during the year, just to keep in touch. It's especially cool watching now. Of course I wish I could be out there with those guys, but now I'm watching as a fan, and it's just a different experience. I've never really cheered for a team as much as I do watching my boys play in the Big Ten. It's an exciting experience for me being able to watch as a fan and a friend, and keeping in touch with those guys and supporting.
HB: So I've got to put you on the spot... was this year's Northwestern team better or worse than your final team?
DC: Ha. That's a tough one... I'm going to answer that by saying that the future for the program is extremely bright. [Laughs]. The talent that those guys had coming in this past year, and what they have coming in this year is really going to help them get to the next level. So as long as teams continue to progress in different areas — and they're always going to play hard, because that's the only way coach Collins will allow his teams to play — the teams are going to continue to grow and the future is looking really good for the program.