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Crocker named freshman of the year

Monday, March 10, 2008  
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By Tracy Washam

Jeff Crocker doesn't let the fact that he is just a freshman show in his game. The starting point guard for the Eagles earned Sooner Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year honors thanks to the confidence he received from coaches.

"There really has not been much pressure on me," Crocker said. "The coaches have a lot of confidence in me, and that gives me confidence knowing they believe in me to run the team, even as a freshman."

Crocker became Oklahoma Christian University's fifth freshman of the Year winner. The point guard averaged 10.4 points and 4.6 assists per game, scored a career-high 19 points at St. Gregory's University on Jan. 4 and then beat the Cavaliers with a buzzer-beating three-pointer at Oklahoma Christian on Feb. 9.

"Jeff was outstanding for us," head coach Dan Hays said. "He had a very young team around him, so to play like he played is just remarkable."

Although his game seems to be flawless, Crocker says he has a few things on his list to work on.

"You can always get better at every part of the game," Crocker said. "Personally, I would like to get quicker over the summer and that will help me on both the offensive and defensive ends."

The Sugarland, Texas native was first team all-district and team captain of his Class 5A No. 5 Ranked team at Lawrence Elkins High School.

"Jeff is a great player," Hays said. "He has tremendous ball handling and passing skills as well as great floor sense and that's why we chose him to lead us this year at point."

Growing up, Crocker always new he wanted to play at the college level.

Picking a school was the only thing left to do.

"The free education and the chance to play a lot as a freshman is what brought me to Oklahoma Christian," Crocker said. "There was no way my parents were going to let me pass up a full scholarship."

His relationship with coach Hays also factored into Crocker ending up at Oklahoma Christian. Crocker wanted to play for someone who would make him better as a player and for him the best choice was coach Hays.

"Coach Hays and I get along really well," Crocker said. "There are times he gets on me about things, but I know it is just because he wants the best for me and the team."

Another attribute Crocker possesses is his ability to be selfless out on the court. The freshman led the eagles with 127 assists this year.

"Being unselfish is important to me as a player," Crocker said. "I try to look for my teammates before looking for my own shot on the court and it makes it easy on me with the offense and group of guys we have out there."

For most college players, they find their inspiration in NBA players or big name college level players. For Crocker it is a different story, his greatest inspiration is his mother.

"My main inspiration would have to be my mom," Crocker said. "She has always been there to take me to practice, the gym, games and has always supported me over the years. I think she might even like basketball more than I do."

Crocker will be a player to watch throughout his next three years at Oklahoma Christian, and few people are more excited than Hays.

"I can't wait to see how Jeff improves in his next few years," Hays said. "He is definitely going to be someone we count on to lead."

Sophomore Jason Taylor and junior Kyle Tefft also earned SAC honors. Taylor finished the season as the conference's leading at 19.4 points per game and was named first team All-SAC. Tefft garnered third team honors, averaging 15.2 points.


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