Every year the Big 10 showcases numerous talented and physical big men. Being named to the first, second, or third team at the end of any season is no easy feat. This past year, Zach Edey, Hunter Dickinson, Trayce Jackson-Davis, and Zed Key all took home post-season honors; quite the list of future NBA players. Therefore, it’s easy to see why Wisconsin basketball center Steven Crowl flew under the radar.
Crowl, known as “Big Steve” by his UW teammates, averaged a modest 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game during the 2022-2023 campaign. The 7-footer was the third or fourth scoring option on most nights.
Although the junior big man’s stat line was nothing special, the growth between his second and third campaigns was significant. Crowl increased in scoring by nearly four points and three rebounds per game while leading the young Wisconsin basketball team in assists and blocks.
Steven Crowl’s Eye-Opening Performances
It wasn’t what Crowl did throughout the entire season that caught my eye, though. It was the flashes of scoring dominance the seven-footer showed with Tyler Wahl out of the lineup. Also, you can’t forget the 36-point 12 rebound NIT performance against Bradley; an absolutely eye-opening performance.
Other performances that stood out were his 21-point 11 rebound game against a scrappy Penn State team. His first big game of the year, a 15-point effort vs. Wake Forest, also showed fans his growth early on.
Crowl wasn’t the same timid player down the stretch in 2022-2023. Instead, he could frequently call for the ball in post-ups or run a pick-and-pop. More often than not, these led to points for the Wisconsin center.
Additionally, he showed aggressiveness and made the highlight reel with an alley-oop dunk in his 20-plus-point game against Western Michigan. I love seeing “Big Steve” be aggressive.
BIG STEVE IS ON ONE TONIGHT! 💥👀
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) December 31, 2022
Shifty footwork, a quick first step, great touch around the rim, and above-average three-point range. These all stand out as Crowl’s best attributes.
Crowl shot a solid 51% from the floor last season and improved his three-point shooting from 25.4% as a sophomore to 30.6% as a junior. It wouldn’t shock me if he improved that number to around 34% next season. With more depth and big-man talent on the roster, teams won’t be able to lock in on Crowl as much — leaving him open often.
When Crowl showed assertiveness last season, he was calling for the ball in a deep post-up situation. Usually, if Crowl was fed the ball quickly, he could win with his quick footwork or a shifty spin move. These moves, if successful, led to a hook shot or layup. His around-the-basket skillset should only improve with added size put on this offseason.
Crowl also is fantastic in the pick-and-roll with point guard Chucky Hepburn. He can roll and cut to the hoop and catch lobs or tight bounce passes. With his range, Hepburn can also kick it back out to him for one of his high-arching threes.
Crowl’s many tools are exciting, and only a few Big 10 centers have all of these developed and in their arsenal.
2023-2024 Outlook For Wisconsin Basketball
If Crowl continues to follow his growth path over the past three seasons, he can no doubt become one of the best big men in the Big 10. This means adding muscle so he can adequately battle bigs like Edey, perfecting his three-point shot to force his defenders out of the paint, and improving his touch around the rim and at the free-throw line.
With a strong offseason and a willingness to call for the ball and be aggressive on the offensive end, Crowl could easily become a 15 to 16-point-per-game scorer.
These improvements could become a reality with the additional depth the team will have down low. Tyler Wahl will be back for one final season, while highly recruited freshmen Gus Yalden and Nolan Winter may crack the rotation off the bench to give Crowl breathers. 6-foot-8 reserve junior forward Markus Ilver could even push for more minutes off the bench to help stretch the floor with his shooting.
Wisconsin Basketball should bounce back quite well this upcoming season, and I genuinely believe positive growth from Crowl could play a significant role in whether they finish at the top or toward the bottom of the conference.
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