By Todd Golden
TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State associate head coach Greg Lansing coached at Iowa, Josh Crawford played at Iowa.
They share that common bond, they share some common Hawkeyes’ experiences, but Lansing was not directly involved in Crawford’s recruitment out of high school in 2006, Lansing’s last year in Iowa City.
Lansing was, however, very instrumental in Crawford in becoming a Sycamore in 2008. The 6-foot-11, 205-pound Crawford signed a letter of intent on Monday to play basketball for Indiana State starting next fall.
“[Lansing] was really down-to-earth, I felt comfortable with him because he knew my AAU coach [Etop Udo-Ema, coach of the Compton Magic], he knew some of the things that went on at Iowa, how it could be messed up there sometimes. He didn’t play the same kind of recruiting game. He told me from the beginning I was his No. 1 and he was going to recruit me to the very end,” Crawford said. “I was looking for a school to go to [last summer], he recruited me late, but I had already decided to go JUCO. He stuck with me, I liked him and all of the guys at Indiana State.”
Crawford transferred from Iowa after the 2007 season and played last year at Oxnard Junior College. He averaged 18 points, 12 rebounds and 4.5 blocks last year for the Condors. Crawford will be able to play next season and will have two years of eligibility.
Crawford projects as a power forward for the Sycamores. Crawford is athletic enough to stretch the floor and has a decent shot from the perimeter.
“I like his mobility and versatility. He’s an inside-out guy who can handle the ball. He can play on the perimeter. He doesn’t address our big strong, tough guy in the middle needs, but he addresses our shot-blocking and rebounding needs,” ISU coach Kevin McKenna said.
Crawford will likely see time on the floor with ISU center Isiah Martin, giving the Sycamores a 1-2 shot blocking punch that would be formidable in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“They thought we could be among the leaders in blocks, I’ve blocked shots everywhere I’ve been. With that athleticism inside, and the fact the Missouri Valley isn’t really a conference with a lot of shot-blockers, we should be pretty good,” Crawford said.
Crawford, who attended Long Beach (Calif.) Wilson High School, spent one year at Iowa, averaging 0.5 points and 0.5 rebounds in limited playing time with the Hawkeyes during Steve Alford’s last season as coach there. Crawford was contemplating a transfer even before Alford left Iowa for New Mexico and he went through with it when Iowa hired former Butler coach Todd Lickliter.
“Once coach Alford decided he was going to leave, I didn’t have a reason to stay there anymore. I didn’t have anyone I needed to be loyal to,” said Crawford on his Iowa departure.
The year at Oxnard honed Crawford’s skills to the point where McKenna didn’t hesitate to bring him aboard to add depth to an ISU backcourt that will include Jay Tunnell, Brant Leitnaker and Martin next season.
“He probably should have redshirted at Iowa, but they had their reasons to throw him in there when they did,” McKenna said. “For us, we love his versatility. Both in the way we play, and his versatility in the way we defend.”
It will be Crawford’s second journey to the Midwest to continue his basketball career. Believe it or not, he says there’s a lot to like about leaving his West Coast environs for harsher winters here.
“I like the conference [ISU] is in, it’s the best mid-major conference. I wanted to see what is what like to be a part of it,” Crawford said. “People actually care about basketball in the Midwest, there’s not much support for it on the West Coast. People are wrapped up in themselves.”
ISU has one more scholarship available for use next season.