Crowley sets visits, to announce Sept. 14


Austin Crowley with his mother Amy and father James. According to his mother, he gets his height from her side of the family where her father was 6-9.
By: 
STEVE ROGERS
Staff Writer


It's down to three.

And while mom and dad may be disappointed their favorites aren't on the list, they are excited the recruiting may soon be over and they can get back to basketball for now.


West Point's Austin Crowley, a four-star recruit who has been prepping at powerful Sunrise Christian in Wichita, Kan., since last fall, says Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Minnesota are his three finalists.


He'll visit each in the next three weeks, starting with Vanderbilt Aug. 23-24, followed by Minnesota Aug. 30-31 and Ole Miss Sept. 6-7.


He plans to announce his commitment on Sept. 14.

That'll leave plenty of time to get ready for his senior year at Sunrise.


"I want to get it out of the way, get the decision made, so I can have a smooth senior year and play basketball," Austin said last week before heading back to Wichita for the start of school.


His dad, James, the parks director for the city of West Point, favored Alabama and coach Avery Johnson.

Mom, Amy, wanted Mississippi State.


But they didn't force their choices.


"Ultimately it's his decision. We are just thankful he had so many options to choose from. He's been a mature kid, we trust his instincts and maturity," James Crowley said.


"We're just excited he'll be able to have a good senior year. He'll make a good decision about where he wants to go and enjoy himself and play ball and get a good education. That's the most important thing," added Amy Crowley.


For Austin, narrowing the field to three finalists came down to "which place made me feel like family when I talked to them, the ones I felt the most comfortable with.
"I've looked for a family atmosphere, a place where they push you to be the best. I've looked at how the coaches and players treat each other. And I've looked at the academics, the stability of the program, the style of play, coaches, everything," he continued.


The 6-6 guard, who scouts have described as "shifty" and "a tricky ball handler," has put on 20 pounds and is now up to 185.

He plans to spend more time in the weight room to bulk up even more, especially since he's considered a multi-position player with skills to play point or shooting guard and even a swing position in a three-guard offense.


While he's narrowed his choices to three, other schools that pushed him hard besides Mississippi State and Alabama included Maryland, Gonzaga, Memphis and Southern Miss.
He's ranked anywhere from 90th to 121st, depending on the list and is among the top 15 at his position in the country.


Ole Miss features the newest, albeit oldest by age, coach in the bunch, having named Kermit Davis Jr. to the replace Andy Kennedy earlier this year.

A Mississippi native, Davis is the son of former MSU standout Kermit Davis Sr. and most-recently built winning ways at Middle Tennessee State.


"Ole Miss has been on me the longest and they love my parents. They also think I can come in and make an immediate impact. I love how Coach Kermit is rebuilding the program," he said of Ole Miss.
Blake Hinson, of Orlando, a teammate of Crowley's at Sunrise, already has committed to Ole Miss.
Interestingly, one of MTSU's big wins in the NCAA tournament came in 2017 over Minnesota.


The other schools and coaches also have quirky connections.


Bryce Drew, the 43-year-old in his third year at Vanderbilt, also was a guard who while a star at Valparaiso hit what is known as "the shot," a buzzer-beating three-pointer to upset Ole Miss in the 1998 NCAA.


"I love the way Vanderbilt plays and how much their coaches love their players," the soft-spoken teen said.


Minnesota is led by the youngest of the group, 35-year-old Richard Pitino, who has been at the helm for the Golden Gophers since 2013.


"I like their playing style and how they say I can come in and make an immediate impact," he said of Minnesota, shrugging off a mention about the state's cold winters.
"We've let him make his choices. One of the things we've tried to help him or guide him on are the things like academics and stability for him to make sure he considers," James Crowley said.


In addition to the weight room, he'll spend the fall working on his shot, both from inside and outside.
"Your shot can always get better," he said.


"There are no more short guys, everyone is long and strong," added his dad.


Playing at Sunrise has opened doors athletically as the school's "Elite" team plays all over the country and finished ranked second in the nation last spring.

Crowley played during the summer with two more top programs, Woods Elite in Little Rock, Ark., and Team Osag, from Jackson, Miss.


But Sunrise has been more than just basketball for the soon-to-be 18-year-old.


"It's a good Christian school with strong academics. That was very important to us. It's the same thing he gets at home. We don't have to think or worry," said Amy Crowley.


An experience his parents called "life changing," he is exposed to people from all over the world. His team last year included players from Texas, Illinois, Florida, Canada, Belgium, Venezuela, the Bahamas, Mali, France and Haiti.


"This has been a goal of his since he was a little kid. To be able to see him set his mind to it and pursue and accomplish his goals has been inspiring for us," James Crowley said.

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