Drew Crawford was exactly the type of player every college coach wants. He was the first ever Wildcat to earn Big Ten freshman of the year and earned third-team all-Big Ten honors twice. Crawford averaged in double figures in all five of his seasons at Northwestern, topping out at 16.1 points per game in 2011-12. After getting injured early in the 2012-13 season, he received a medical redshirt for a fifth season and decided to return to a struggling Northwestern squad which was also undergoing a coaching change. He was a star on and off the court, garnering Academic All-America awards in 2012 and 2014. NU's all-time leader in games started and games played, Crawford finished his career as the second all-time leading scorer in Northwestern history, trailing just John Shurna.
However, all good things must come to an end. Crawford exits Evanston in hope of finding his place on an NBA franchise. His chances are not looking so good. DraftExpress ranks Crawford 91st among NCAA seniors. Considering the high volume of underclassmen that enter the draft every year, Crawford would fall even farther down the list on a draft big board. The reality is that Crawford won't be drafted, but with his basketball abilities, there's no doubt he can find a place to play.
Crawford first strength is well, strength. He's got a strong build, and he's certainly capable of matching up with most NBA shooting guards physically. Crawford has the athleticism to rebound on both ends on the professional level. Although he's a bit streaky, Crawford has NBA three-point range and can knock down shots from just about anywhere on the floor. He's also a solid defender, who's proven he can lock down some of the Big Ten's best. Crawford's experience could be a positive too. He's 23 years old with five years of college ball under his belt, and his dad is an NBA referee. Crawford is physically developed, unlike a lot of one-and-dones, and mentally prepared for the professional level.
Crawford will have to adjust to playing shooting guard if he were to get to the NBA. At 6'5", Crawford could maybe put some minutes in at small forward, but truly he'd be a shooting guard. He spent a lot of time at forward this year and is not the most-skilled ball handler. A lot of teams were able to frustrate him by forcing him left. Crawford also isn't as quick as most NBA shooting guards. He has good feet and solid defensive skills, but that may not be enough to keep up with the league's best.
Crawford is unlike a lot of professional prospects in that he's 23 years old and has five years of experience in college ball. That's going to help and hurt him. In the second round of the draft, NBA teams like to take young guys that they can develop. More experienced players often get a chance in post-draft tryouts though. Crawford can look for squads that are willing to give him a shot and show them what he's got. Crawford is a very well-rounded player. He can score, possesses a good jump shot, passes well, rebounds and has a solid defensive skill set. Nothing about him really stands out for NBA scouts though. He's not going to take games over on either end of the court. The reality is Drew Crawford almost inevitably will not be drafted. He should have the opportunity to try-out for some NBA teams after the draft, and perhaps make the D-league. If not, Drew can certainly find a professional team to play for overseas.