Gonzaga’s Bryant Crawford to compete at LeBron James Skills Academy


Gonzaga rising senior guard Bryant Crawford has turned heads this summer with his play at the NBPA Top 100 Camp and Kyrie Irving Skills Academy. He will also participate in this week’s LeBron James Skills Academy (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

With his team down two points and about 10 seconds remaining on the clock during a contest at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville last month, Bryant Crawford was given free reign to determine the outcome.

The play began with a pick-and-roll, Crawford’s specialty as one of the top point guards in the class of 2015. As the defender rolled with Crawford’s teammate off the screen, the Gonzaga guard was left with an open look from three that could have sealed the victory. But Crawford wanted more.

With a quick hesitation dribble, Crawford drove down the right side of the lane and rose for a dunk attempt that resulted in this:

(h/t NextUp Recruits)

The poster jam over Ben Simmons, a Montverde forward and the No. 2 overall prospect in ESPN’s 2015 class rankings, punctuated an impressive three-day showing for Crawford that spilled over into the Kyrie Irving Skills Academy and will be his spark come Wednesday, when he begins play in Las Vegas for the LeBron James Skills Academy.

“It just came with the flow of the game,” said Crawford, who finished with 13 points to lead his team to an overtime victory. “I started heating up and it was a close game and the lane opened up. I was going for the dunk whether he was there or not. He stepped over, so it was a big play and a memorable moment for the camp.”

The 6-foot-3 guard put together several more memorable moments the next week in New Jersey. There, Crawford showed off his high basketball IQ by picking up instructions quickly and finding the open man on set plays. Crawford’s improving jump shot was also on display, as he knocked down threes and popped mid-range jumpers off pick and rolls.

All these skills came together during individual sessions and scrimmages, when Crawford went up against former North Carolina guard Dexter Strickland as well as Irving himself and NBA players Trey Burke (Utah), DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento) and Anthony Davis (New Orleans).

“I think I held my own,” Crawford said. “The workouts weren’t as long as the NBPA camp but for those two hours that were were in the gym, I was working hard, giving it my all.”

The opportunity to improve and perform on these platforms is something that Crawford relishes after enduring a slew of setbacks during his last three years at Gonzaga. As a freshman, his season ended before it began after he broke his leg during a scrimmage. Then this past year as a junior, with the onus on him following the graduation of 2012-13 All-Met Player of the Year Kris Jenkins, a broken hand sidelined Crawford for a sizable chunk of the season.

But when Crawford is on the floor and at his best, whether it be on the AAU circuit with Team Takeover or at summer camps like this week’s Nike-sponsored LeBron James combine, the lanky guard has left an impression.

Currently, he holds offers from Georgetown, Maryland, Indiana, Louisville, Nebraska, Seton Hall, Texas and Villanova, among others, with growing interest from Virginia, N.C. State and Wake Forest. Crawford said he’d like to take a few more unofficial visits and then commit to a college before the start of the high school basketball season.

After that, Crawford, who has sprouted two inches and put on about five pounds in the past year, will shift his focus to having a breakout season of sorts at Gonzaga with hopes of staying injury-free.

“I just want to stay consistent,” said Crawford, who averaged 10.2 points as a junior. “Just stay playing the same way I played at the last two camps but also take it to a new level and pick it up even more.”

Paul VI rising senior forward and Georgetown commit Marcus Derrickson was also in attendance and, by all accounts, played well, demonstrating a mix of craft post moves and a soft outside touch.

Brandon Parker is a sports reporter for The Washington Post.
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