CU men’s basketball head coach Jeff Bzdelik has been searching the world for players that will not only run his style of offense, but reflect the university in a good light.
However, he doesn’t have to look far for a man who does those things; just down his bench is redshirt-sophomore Casey Crawford.
“Casey has a wonderful personality,” Bzdelik said. “He’s very caring and sensitive to the needs of other people, and a real genuine person to be around.”
Crawford, who sat out all of last season per NCAA rules after transferring from Wake Forest, is a laid back person off the court, but when he steps onto the hardwood, the 6'9", 235-pound Kansas native might soon become one of the best big men to shoot from the perimeter in the Big 12.
“He’s like a throw-back big man, who can really shoot the basketball from beyond the arc,” Bzdelik said. “That’s going to make opposing big men have to play him and honor him, which is going to add spacing in our offense that we didn’t have last year.”
While sitting on the bench last season, Crawford became a student of Bzdelik’s offense which he said was what he learned most from last season.
“I picked up the offense, which is a big part,” Crawford said. “I spent all of last year studying it and figuring it out.”
Crawford, who only played 27 minutes and scored 10 points with four rebounds, four assists and two blocks in nine games at Wake Forest, but said the most important lesson he learned during his freshman season in the ACC was to keep your head up.
“Never get discouraged, keep working hard, and no matter what happens, just play through and you can only control what you do yourself,” Crawford said.
Coming out of Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park, Kan., Crawford was named first team all-conference three times, league MVP and first team all-state twice. He was also named the 2006 Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year and Kansas' Mr. Basketball his senior season.
Crawford said it was nice to be awarded the title of Mr. Basketball as a senior in high school.
“It was a cool award,” Crawford said. “It was a good accomplishment for my four years.”
After practice, Crawford doesn’t leave the game of basketball on the court, as he is roommates with junior Dwight Thorne II, also on the basketball team. Thorne said he likes living with Casey and that they have a good relationship being roommates.
“It’s cool (living with Crawford),” Thorne said. “He handles his responsibility, I handle mine, it’s a pretty good partnership—relationship or whatever you want to call it.”
When, the two roommates are not on the court, Thorne said they like to watch T.V., listen to music, and play Madden NFL 2004 on the old PS2.
“Madden is our game of choice,” Thorne said. “That’s all we play, we don’t play anything else, just Madden ‘04 on PS2.”
Crawford gets his athleticism from his family. His brother, Blake, played basketball at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and his father, Steve, played professional baseball with the Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals.
If he wasn’t playing basketball, Crawford said his next sport of choice would be baseball.
“I played baseball in high school but I hurt my shoulder pitching sophomore year,” Crawford said. “I couldn’t really do that anymore, so I had to stick with basketball.”
Crawford is not only becoming a scholar on the basketball court but in the class room as well. The political science major loves the field of study and wants to go to law school once he’s done playing on the hardwood.
“It’s a good major to have going into law school, and it’s something that I’m passionate and interested about.”
The men’s basketball team starts the regular season Nov. 14 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, with Crawford looking to make an impact immediately for the Buffs.
Though his perimeter shooting game may be his best asset on the basketball court, Bzdelik said his character is what makes him special as a person.
“He’s a type of young man that could babysit your little ones,” Bzdelik said. “He represents our program and the University of Colorado in a very positive way within this community.”