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Crockett gives back, heads to Italy

Posted: August 11, 2014 - 10:37pm  |  Updated: August 12, 2014 - 12:02am
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Brandan Lara tries on shoes with former Texas Tech forward,Jaye Crockett, Monday in Lubbock. (Tori Eichberger AJ/Media)  Tori Eichberger AJ/Media
Tori Eichberger AJ/Media
Brandan Lara tries on shoes with former Texas Tech forward,Jaye Crockett, Monday in Lubbock. (Tori Eichberger AJ/Media)
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Brandon Lara looked up at a wall full of shoes past the Kobes, LeBrons and KDs to the Nike Air Force Ones.

The sixth grader pointed at the all-white pair that caught his interest and Jaye Crockett pulled the shoe down for him. And then talked to him about the pros and cons of an all-white sneaker.

“What if someone steps on them and gets them dirty?” the former Texas Tech forward said. “It’s easier to keep the all-black ones clean.”

Lara heeded the advice of Crockett and decided on a pair of black Air Force Ones with a white sole. With eyes full of excitement and a small smile, Lara walked out of the store with Crockett and a new pair of shoes in hand.

“He played basketball on TV,” Lara said. “He runs the full court and dunks and stuff.”

This isn’t the first time Crockett has lent a helping hand to a Lubbock youth.

Over the holidays during his freshman year, he sponsored a child over Christmas and bought them gifts.

Now, he’s helping kids get ready for the school year.

“We’re doing a thing for my
program, Jaye Rock Athletics,” Crockett said. “I have a scholarship where I’m taking kids out to shop. We’re getting them school clothes, school supplies, a backpack, some shoes and trying to get them something to start school off.”

Crockett recently started Jaye Rock Athletics where he hosts camps and works with kids from the age of 7 through high school.

In preparation for his shopping spree, Crockett contacted his friend A.J. McCleod, the Optimish Branch Unit Director for the Boys and Girls Club of Lubbock, and asked him to find a child that probably needed some help at the beginning of the school year.

The first child who came to his mind was Lara.

“I picked Brandon because he’s one of our better kids,” McCleod said. “He comes to the club on a daily basis. He does what he’s supposed to be doing. He’s one of the kids I feel like needed to get a chance to come out and go shopping with someone like Jaye.”

When Crockett was in school in Clovis, New Mexico, he said he didn’t have anyone doing anything like this for children in the community. That’s why he wants to be the first. He wants to start a trend.

“I hope I’m not the only one doing this,” Crockett said. “I hope next year that somebody else is doing it. … I just want to be someone who motivates others to do big things.”

In a little over a week, Crocektt heads over to Italy to start his career playing professionally for Tortona Orsi Derthona in the Italian Series 2 Silver League. He joins three other former Red Raiders in Italy — Jarrius Jackson, Mike Singletary and Alan Voskuil.

“I talk to Jackson all the time because I’m playing for one of his former coaches,” Crockett said. “I’m just talking to him and trying to learn as much as I can over texts.”

Crockett said he is expected to get playing time at the small forward and shooting guard positions. He switched to the small forward position this past season and led the Red Raiders in scoring, averaging 13.9 points and 6.4 boards per game.

“I’m kind of thin, so I have to put a lot of meat on me before I start playing the three,” he said. “I was talking to Singletary because I play him my first game of the season. I was like, ‘I got to get in the weight room so I can hold you’ because I think he plays the (small forward), too.”

After playing in a showcase in Las Vegas midway through July, Crockett got a workout with the Dallas Mavericks. Crockett said their D-League team was interested, but because it happened so late, the team couldn’t draft him.

“In my contract, I have where a team can buy me at a certain amount,” Crockett said. “It’s however much my team in Italy wants to do and they’ll negotiate it.

His Italian is going to need some work, though; spaghetti and pasta can only take him so far.

“I’m just ready to learn from a whole other culture,” he said. “I’ve just been learning from the American point of view, but there’s a lot more out there in the world. I just want to learn their perspective and learn more about their culture and why they think the way they think.”

krista.pirtle@lubbockonline.com

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