Crutch Time

Crutch Time

I know, right? The new website does look great, thanks for noticing.

We’re back in the Blackburn Review 1000 series to give you some more insight on Jalen Crutcher, the Flyers freshman guard from Memphis, TN.

First, let’s start with how young Jalen landed in a Flyers uniform. This is far from your typical story, and ironically UD has UMass (err rather, Pat Kelsey), to thank for the commitment of Crutcher.

You may remember back in April, UMass had fired Derek Kellogg and was in the final stages of introducing their new coach, Pat Kelsey, in a press conference. In one of the most bizarre coaching carousel stories I have ever heard, Kelsey walked out of Amherst minutes before his introductory press conference, announced he would no longer be taking the job, and hopped on a plane back to Charlotte to get the hell out of Dodge. About a week later in the aftermath, UMass would eventually land on Matt McCall, from Chattanooga, to take the job and naturally all his recruits were then free to go rummaging around to see if better offers popped up. Crutcher was approached by the new Mocs’ coach, Lamont Paris, to stick around at Chattanooga, but ultimately felt the style Paris was bringing with him from Wisconsin didn’t fit his skill set as a point guard. In comes Grant & Co.

“I can’t really even explain it,” Crutcher said Monday after returning to Memphis from his campus visit at Dayton. “I just felt it in me, like this was it.”

Initially, Crutcher thought his best option would be to go to prep school for a year and re-classify in the class of 2018, but after one visit to UD’s campus (and surely looking through a roster that was devoid of a definitive starting point guard), Crutcher did some mind-changing and signed with the old U of D. Grant said afterwards that he noticed Crutcher at an AAU event in Dallas and was so impressed he offered a scholarship a week later without hesitation. It also didn’t hurt that James Kane had some familiarity with Crutcher, as he had recruited him earlier in the year at Murray State. Sometimes, the chips just fall your way in the dirty business of recruiting. (insert your best Pitino joke here)

So now that you know HOW he got here, let’s take a look at what we actually have in the 6’1″ point guard.

Personally, I don’t read much into these type of “recruiting rankings,” but if you’re looking for some sort of barometer for Crutch, he was the #314th ranked senior in last year’s class, and the sixth best player in Tennessee. Early in 2016 during the AAU circuit he had several SEC schools interested, specifically Arkansas and Ole Miss, but at the time said he was holding out to “get some ACC schools on my radar.” Needless to say, the writing on the wall became abundantly clear over time — Crutcher’s abilities were more suited for the low-power 5 to mid-major level and probably a good indicator as to why he fell to Chattanooga, and eventually to Dayton.

From everything I’ve seen on Crutcher he looks like a solid ball-handler and overall facilitator with a strong defensive game who also likes to shoot off the dribble…a lot. One of my negative takeaways from watching film was the predictability of his game, which may or may not get him in trouble at the next level. Most often when I saw him drive to the hoop, or make a slick pass, he knew what he wanted to do well before the deed was done. In the video below, you’ll see Crutcher make several accurate entry passes, keeping in mind those were available because he was the best player on his team and often drew double teams that opened up the rest of the floor.

The question I have centers around his ability to create for other guys, both on and off the ball, when he isn’t the key target of the defense. However, with that said, he looks like a patient player who doesn’t force things, has a natural ability as a slasher and an above average ability as a finisher near the hoop…all things the Flyers will desperately need this year. It’s certainly hard to overlook his size (6-1, 161 lbs) and I find myself wondering exactly how much contribution we will see from him in his first year on the collegiate circuit, especially when the other guard in his class (Jordan Davis) fills the stat sheet at 6-2, 195lbs. Certainly an interesting battle to keep your eyes on as the season progresses later this year.

Undoubtedly my favorite part about Jalen Crutcher is his ability/willingness to do some really ignorant shit when the mood strikes him. If you don’t want to watch this whole tape, fast forward to the 1:01 mark:
(editors note: try not to get confused watching Jalen #3 and his counterpart Antwan Beans #2, who looks like a damn fine player in his own right in the class of 2018)

That was just straight up disrespectful. When researching for this article I found out #30 dropped out of school shortly after this game. This highlight is basically the perfect representation of Crutcher’s tendency to fire shit up whenever the hell he feels like it. This could either be the most exciting aspect of Dayton Flyers hoops in the next 4 years or the most terrifying, we’ll see.

O ya, he can dunk too, so that’s pretty neat:

One more highlight tape and I’ll let you go here. Same story as the last video — lot of perimeter shooting. I’m telling you, this kid will shoot it from anywhere, he doesn’t care about anyone’s feelings. Huck it, chuck it, basketball.

It’s easy to see why Grant felt the need to go get Crutcher. He’s a great shooter and defender with solid ball handling abilities that could easily turn into an every-night-contributor as early as this season. You should be intrigued to see how his game translates to the next level, I know I am.

Last thing: Ridgeway HS bball stats were maddeningly hard to find and this article wasn’t devoid of stats by choice. If anyone knows where I can find those, slide in the comments section or my DMs.

Kostas is up next, stay LOWD. #BeNormal

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The LOWD ambassador of Chicago, Sully has spent his life tirelessly watching UD hoops. Welcomer of all takes, hot and cold.

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