In his Chicago Sun-Times-affiliated blog, Joe Henricksen of the City/Suburban Hoops Report breaks down that question and the candidacy of Drew Crawford, the 6-foot-5-inch Naperville Central swingman committed to Northwestern. Henricksen writes:
"Player of the Year conversation should include....
In a recent radio interview I mentioned that Naperville Central's Drew Crawford should be in the Player of the Year conversation. By the reaction I received you would have thought I was talking about a player in Alaska. While Crawford is certainly a darkhorse and a Hoops Report favorite over the past two-plus years, he has no realistic chance for the Mr. Basketball award due to the fact hardly anyone knows much about him or has seen him play. He doesn't play in the Public League, he didn't play at Proviso West or Pontiac over the holidays, and he didn't sign with a big-time college basketball program. Crawford, though, should be a top five Mr. Basketball vote-getter."
We agree with Henricksen's logic, but the guess here is that it won't bother the well-adjusted senior all that much. Crawford felt somewhat slighted when his breakout junior season didn't warrant a single offer, but he proved that he was a Big Ten player over the summer on the AAU circuit.
"Big-time" depends on your definition - Northwestern may not fit it - but remember that it was essentially Crawford's dream school, and in deciding to stay close to home he turned down Wake Forest.
In an age of elite players moving and transferring here and there, Crawford is still a four-year program player (three years on varsity) who will likely end his career as the school's all-time leading scorer. Crawford gets his shots without being selfish, and his teammates never seem to resent all the attention he receives, patiently answering the same questions. Maybe that's because he helps them get open looks and pad their stats, but it also has to be a reflection of his personality and lack of ego.
If, as seems likely, Central (20-2, 10-0) wins another DuPage Valley Conference title and makes a long run in the Oswego East Sectional, those Mr. Basketball votes will be an afterthought.
What would your player of the year ballot look like?