CHS grad Crockett signs with Italian league

Staff report
During his five years at Texas Tech, Clovis High grad Jaye Crockett had his share of international teammates who were dropped into a foreign country and navigate a new language and customs with teammates who were supportive, but limited in their ability to help.

Now it’s Crockett’s turn, as a new signee to Tortona Orsi Derthona of the Italian Serie 2 Silver League. He’s got books and smartphone apps, and will soon meet teammates that will be support but similarly limited in their ability to help.

“I’m old enough,” Crockett said, “that I’ll have to adjust on my own.”

The 2009 Clovis High grad and No. 2 scorer in school history will turn 23 in mid-October, when the league will kick off play. Crockett is one of three Americans on the team, along with Christian Polk of Texas-El Paso and Jonathan Tavernari of Brigham Young.

Crockett, according to a release from his former college, is just one of five Red Raiders to record 1,000 points, 600 rebounds, 100 steals and 100 assists during a career. As a senior for first-year Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith, Crockett averaged 13.9 points and 6.4 rebounds.

That wasn’t enough to get Crockett’s name called among an NBA draft class loaded with early entries, and the plan had been to go overseas even though a tryout materialized with the Texas Legends of the NBA’s D-League.

Although the D-League tryout helped Crockett get exposure to NBA personnel, Crockett felt the Italy route was the best choice for financial and cultural rewards are greater.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to be in a great country and expand my mind,” Crockett said. “The mind, it’s like a muscle you’ve got to work out.”

The contract with Derthona is for one year. Crockett declined to discuss contract specifics on the advice of his agent, but said a team in the NBA or another league could buy out the contract if it wanted him on its roster.

If he likes it there, Crockett said, there is a caveat that American players who become an Italian citizen are eligible for higher salaries in the league. For now, Crockett just has a work visa he took care of a few weeks ago in Houston and is taking things one season at a time.

Crockett flies out Tuesday from Dallas Fort Worth International, and could be playing into May depending on the club’s playoff success.

The biggest difference in play, Crockett said, is that the league uses the FIBA goaltending rule which allows defenders to slap the ball off the cylinder once it hits hte rim, but otherwise, “it’s just basketball.”

The team will provide Crockett with an apartment and a car, but the latter concerns him.

“I’m worried about the car being a stick shift,” Crockett admitted. “I don’t know how to drive a stick, and I’m not sure they have a lot of automatics.”