Bardo: Crawford made 'right' decision to return

Drew Crawford had a big decision to make. It was last April, and the season was finished. Crawford, who redshirted after having surgery to repair his injured right shoulder, was finishing his undergraduate work toward his degree at Northwestern.

He could transfer to another school for his fifth and final year of eligibility or return to the uncertainty of a new coach who would certainly use a different system than the one under Bill Carmody.

It was rumored that UCLA and Missouri were among the schools interested in Crawford’s services, and it must have been tempting for him to think about the possibility of playing in an NCAA tournament. He had already enjoyed a very productive career at Northwestern, which has never made the NCAA tournament.

[ MORE: Northwestern soars in Stephen Bardo’s Power Rankings ]

Enter new head coach Chris Collins. It must have been something Collins said when meeting with Crawford that convinced him to stay. Northwestern didn’t have any top 50 recruits or transfers coming in. Some in basketball circles around Chicago wondered out loud why Crawford would “waste” his last year with the Wildcats.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Fast forward to this week, and we find Northwestern sitting in fourth place in the balanced Big Ten (5-5) following three straight road wins. The main reason for this is the way Crawford has played the last month.

After averaging 23 points and six rebounds in road victories at Wisconsin and Minnesota, Crawford carries the titles of Big Ten Player of the Week and Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week.

I had a chance to speak with former Northwestern player and associate head coach Tavaras Hardy last night. The Georgetown assistant told me: “Drew’s decision to stay for his last year was the best decision he’s made in his career. He will go down as one of the great players in Northwestern history and will be set for life.”

Hard to argue with that, considering Hardy was partly responsible for persuading Crawford to return.

Crawford is the Big Ten’s active leading scorer and is the only current player to rank in the top 10 of both scoring and rebounding. He is fourth all-time in scoring at Northwestern and is the catalyst for a resurgence that no one saw coming.

I think Crawford made the right decision and Northwestern and Big Ten fans are thrilled that he did.

About Stephen Bardo
The BTN basketball analyst and former Flyin’ Illini star is a regular contributor to BTN.com. Follow Bardo on Twitter @stephenbardo, read his past posts right here, and use the form below to submit your questions to his Big Ten basketball mailbag.

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