Clovis’ Crockett figures prominently in Tech’s plans

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Jaye Crockett averaged 29 points and 12 rebounds his senior season at Clovis High.

By Rick White: CNJ sports editor

Jaye Crockett has literally grown into what figures to be a prominent role this season with the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

A redshirt freshman, Crockett has sprouted more than 2 inches to 6-foot-7 and packed on about 25 pounds since he graduated as the Clovis Wildcats’ second all-time leading scorer two springs ago.

Texas Tech coach Pat Knight said Crockett is playing with a lot more confidence this fall. He’ll play on the wing for the Red Raiders, who started practice Friday and open their season Nov. 12.

“I look at him being in our rotation and he has a chance to start,” said Knight, who took over the program from his father, Hall-of-Famer Bob Knight, two years ago. “He’s really come along in the past year. He’s got great basketball sense and he’s such a versatile player.

“We’re looking at him playing a lot of minutes.”

The Red Raiders return five of their six top scorers from last year’s 19-16 team that reached the quarterfinals of the NIT Tournament.

“Right now we’re not really looking for him to score — we’ll ask him to score more in the future. We’re looking for him to defend a lot of different guys, block shots and rebound.

“He’s such an exceptional athlete he’ll not just be able to get defensive rebounds but offensive rebounds. He’s able to get offensive rebounds that a lot of other players couldn’t get.”

Crockett said redshirting last season — he could practice with the team but not play in games — involved a lot of learning.

“I could sit back and observe things,” said Crockett, who averaged 29 points and 12 rebounds as a senior at Clovis. “It was kind of hard because for the first time since I can remember I didn’t play in a game all year. It got to me a little bit at the beginning.”

He attributed the weight gain to improved eating habits and hard work in the weight room. And he said the growth spurt might not be done yet.

Playing at the college level is much more demanding in terms of the mental aspects and time — if he’s not going to class, studying or sleeping he’s working on his game, Crockett said.

In his year plus at Tech, Crockett also has received coaching tips from Bob Knight.

“He’s at practice a lot,” Crockett said. “He’ll talk to me if I did something wrong or talk to me about ways to improve.”