Wisconsin's men's basketball program will welcome six players as part of its 2020 class. AllBadgers.com will begin a series where we hope to discuss and break down these new Badgers, with the help of their coaches.
Apple Valley (MN) Eastview head coach Paul Goetz saw Steven Crowl come up to the varsity level as a 6'7 sophomore, and as the year progressed, he saw the future Wisconsin signee's potential and development.
"During that season, he went from kind of being out there playing against kids, and as the season went on, he got better and better and better," Goetz told AllBadgers.com on Monday afternoon. "By the end of his sophomore year, he was our go-to guy in the region finals against Apple Valley when (current Duke guard) Tre Jones was there. We went to him and he was scoring, and in that offseason I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I think this kid can be real special.'
This season for the Lightning, Crowl scored 26.7 points on 17.5 field goal attempts per game, shooting 59.7% overall. He grabbed about 12 rebounds per contest, and according to Goetz, led the team in assists (4.3 per outing). Along with becoming the boy's basketball program's all-time leading scorer, he joined fellow Badger signee Ben Carlson as candidates for the state's 2020 Mr. Basketball Award.
In addition to the aforementioned distinctions, Goetz believes Crowl's "defense, his footwork on ball screens is absolutely top end."
"I go to a lot of small-college games, and Steven's right up there with footwork with those kids at the college level," Goetz said. "From the time I had him as a sophomore till now, I mean the growth has been incredible, and I think it's gonna keep on because I think he's gonna just keep getting bigger and stronger. He understands the game real well, so I think his learning curve is just gonna keep going up."
Here is more from AllBadgers.com's conversation with Goetz about his now-former player, whom Wisconsin listed as a 6'9, 210-pound center in a November 2019 release of the confirmed signed players.
Answers have been edited lightly for clarity and length.
What are some of the strengths that you see currently or saw at the end of his senior season that will translate over to Wisconsin?
"I think like I mentioned before, I think he's a great passer. I think he's a very willing passer. Steven can spread the floor. He's just under 6'11, and we just measured them at the end of the year, so I bet just over 6'10.5. The kid, he can knock threes down. He also has a great back-to-the-basket game. He passes real well out of double teams, and I think his rebounding from his junior to senior year has improved dramatically. The better the players he plays with, I think the better he plays. I watched him play a couple games with the D1 (Minnesota AAU) team, and he just really enjoys the teamwork aspect of the game, and that's why he kind of ... thought Wisconsin would be a great fit for him because they just play as a team. They play well together, and they spread the floor. He thought he could go inside. He thought he could be able to go outside and be real successful at Wisconsin."
In terms of areas of growth, areas of improvement, what are the next steps for him once he gets to Madison?
"I just think the whole maturing physically, and that's going to happen. He seems like he's real skinny and slight, but I tell you what, the kid's real strong. He's a little surprising with how strong he is, and it surprises you also how athletic he is. He kind of surprises you when you first look at them. You're like, 'OK, here's a skinny kid,' but he weighs over 210 pounds, but he still looks skinny.
"I think the big thing is just physically maturing and getting used to the intensity of practices, and as soon as he can do that, I just think he's gonna take off. I think the coaches have a real good understanding of what his strengths are."
Is there a play or set of plays that you'll remember from your time coaching Crowl at Eastview?
"I just think overall, I think his competitive fire -- he plays with a real edge. I think, he's that kind of guy that you want on your team and that you want on your side when things are going tough. He does play with that edge and there were some times this year where he just stepped up and really, really carried the team against some really, really good opponents. I guess it's just the combo of everything involved in what Steven gives. It was just a pleasure to watch him, and I just am real excited to watch his continued growth at Wisconsin."