Texas Tech men’s basketball head coach Tubby Smith walked around from behind his desk and sat down on the black leather couch in his office, placing an orange file folder on the table in front of him.
The folder, labeled “Jaye Crockett,” holds all the information about the player, including his statistics from years prior.
When the senior forward and Smith first met, the folder was in hand as the two got to know each other.
“I asked him questions,” Smith said. “I asked about his AAU experience, who he’s dating, his family situation, those types of things. … The first meeting was just trying to feel him out and what his expectations were for himself and what his expectations were for the program, for me, his teammates, and his goals. I wanted to go through (the file) in front of him to let him know, ‘Look fellas, I hope I find positive things in here. And we did pretty much.”
While Smith had questions for Crockett, he was also a bit befuddled.
“He was our leading scorer and leading rebounder, which was amazing,” Smith said. “Your first thought as a coach is, well why? Why weren’t you starting?”
From the 2010-11 season to last year, Crockett had a combined 10 starts but was coming into this season averaging 11.9 points and 6.5 rebounds.
“Last year, I came off the bench within the first two to five minutes so I was in the game with starting minutes,” Crockett said. “It really wasn’t something that ever bothered me. I like to watch the game and get a feel for it before I went in there.”
This season, Crockett is Tech’s leading scorer with 14.4 points per game.
On Jan. 11 in Austin, Crockett scored his 1,000th point as a Red Raider, becoming the 36th member of the 1,000-point club and the 17th member of the 1,000-point club and 500 rebound club.
He enters tonight’s matchup against Baylor with 1,017 points, 572 rebounds, 91 assists, 90 steals and 59 blocks on his career.
Crockett says his career at Texas Tech has been an honor.
“It’s crazy,” Crockett said. “I never thought that I would have 1,000 points. That wasn’t something that was my goal in life. I just really wanted to win.”
To Smith, it’s even more impressive since he wasn’t a set starter until this year.
“That’s a great accomplishment to be 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a situation here where he’s had so many different leaders, coaches and different people he’s played with,” Smith said. “And not having started, that’s amazing.”
For Crockett, whose first season as a Red Raider was under Pat Knight in 2009-10, Smith is his fourth head coach.
He’s had to adjust to different playing philosophies throughout his time at Tech.
“It helps now during the summer since we have workouts,” Crockett said. “You get an early jump on it, but it’s still tough getting adjusted with the whole new coaching staff and how they like to run things.
Playing for Smith for not even a year, Crockett has already learned a lot.
But more about life off the court than on.
Crockett sees his grandfather in Smith.
“He’s big on family,” Crockett said. “Family is a big thing for him and taking care of them. That’s another thing I like about my grandpa.”
Crockett considers his grandpa, a military man in the Air Force, to be his hero because of “how he acts day to day.”
After being born in Watertown, NY, Crockett and his family moved to Clovis, NM to be with the rest of the family.
“That’s where my grandparents were,” Crockett said. “That’s where my mom was raised too because we’re military.”
Crockett started playing basketball at a young age, saying his mom signed him up when he was four.
“I used to play like Vince Carter,” Crockett said. “I’d be dunking and stuff. Me and my brother in the front yard. My dad would lower the rim for us and we’d almost hurt ourselves.”
Crockett has gone from lowering the goal to stick his arm in the rim to getting his team fired up with a breakaway windmill dunk on a regulation 10-foot goal.
With just an hour and a half drive between his hometown of Clovis to Texas Tech, Crockett made his decision to come to Tech.
“I was familiar with Lubbock,” Crockett said. “Bubba Jennings who recruited me was from Clovis. He was part of the coaching staff that was here at the time. It was just real homey. I just like the place.”
The appeal of Texas Tech rubbed off from Crockett and onto recruits who he’s hosted for the men’s basketball program during his time as a Red Raider.
“He was cool,” junior forward Jordan Tolbert said. “He showed me around. That was like the best time of my life. … He just tried to tell me the ins and outs of college basketball.”
In the middle of his third season as a Red Raider, Tolbert says Crockett continues to help.
“Always play with energy and be focused for the game,” Tolbert said Crockett tells him. “Take care of your body. Jaye is real old. He’s been here for five years. He tells me to take care of my body.”
Crockett’s energy has been a constant for him throughout his five years at Texas Tech, no matter the coach or who’s playing around him.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to bring energy,” Crockett said. “I just try to bring a lot of energy and be vocal. Talking gets you through being tired.”
This season, Smith and his staff named Crockett co-captain.
“Jaye is a confident guy,” Smith said. “He’s pretty sure in who he is. He’s a pretty sincere guy. He’s very coachable. He’s a trustworthy person and player. That’s why he’s one of our co-captains because I trust that he’s going to be saying the right things in the locker room and when the coaches aren’t around.”
On the court, Smith likes Crockett’s ability to produce from any spot.
“Besides being athletic, he’s our most versatile player because he can play the four, the three and he can probably play the two and the five if he had to,” Smith said describing the different positions. “He’s a good passer. I think defensively he can guard multiple positions. Versatility is number one.”
Crockett graduated from Tech in August and is pursuing his master’s degree.
“It was cool,” Crockett said. “It was crazy to see how proud my grandma was. That was cool to see how happy she was.”
When this season ends, Crockett wants to look for an agent and pursue a professional basketball career.
After that, he hopes his mass communications degree will land him a job.
“I did want to get into advertising,” Crockett said. “The first Old Spice commercials were really random and I have a really random mind. I thought I could make commercials like that. I got interested in it.”
For now, his focus is on reaching one of his goals as his final season as a Red Raider comes to a close – post season play.
“That’s the main thing,” Crockett said. “Either in the NIT or the tournament. The main goal is the NCAA tournament. We have to fight hard from now on. That’s what you dream of when you’re little is getting a ring.”
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