Jae Crowder will have plenty to offer NBA teams at the next level with his unique skill set of outside shooting, rebounding and leadership.
But as he prepares to make the move from forward to shooting guard, the one area Crowder knows he will have to perfect is his agility.
Crowder has trained during the week in Milwaukee with Marquette strength and conditioning coach Todd Smith and Mike Lee, head skill development trainer at Mike Lee Basketball.
Lee, who trained Marquette’s Lazar Hayward and Steve Novak in their pre-draft workouts, also works with Darius Johnson-Odom.
The trio has focused on shooting, ball-handling and game situations, but Lee was most impressed with Crowder’s footwork during their agility work and subsequent on-court drills.
“One thing that really has stood out about Jae is that he has great footwork,” Lee said. “Playing the ‘2’ or the ‘3’, a lot of it is about footwork. He has good footwork off the dribble and catch, and that’s the basis for shots in the NBA.”
Crowder will continue to work out with Johnson-Odom and Lee in Milwaukee, but once classes end this Friday he will travel and stay in Miami, where he currently trains on weekends.
Athlete’s Edge Sports Performance Training was the landing spot for Crowder’s workouts. He has worked with two coaches the last month, one for shooting and ball-handling and the other for agility work.
His agility coach, Mike Smith, said their focus now is improving Crowder’s explosiveness on his first step, as well as hip and lateral movement.
“At the next level it’s all about separation,” Smith, who trained Detroit Pistons point guard Brandon Knight last year, said. “It’s about going from one movement to the next and having a lightning quick first step.”
Because Crowder is only in Miami on the weekends, Smith said they have focused on “essential workouts,” but once he arrives in Miami for the duration of his pre-draft regimen, workouts will increase in difference and intensity.
Crowder will begin training on the beach, running hills and even running on tracks to improve forward movement.
For now, Crowder has focused his workouts on both bursts of speed and quick movement.
“We work on power stuff through band work and exploding into the first step,” Crowder said. “And then without, we do cone work and ladder work moving at a fast speed.”
Other agility drills Crowder and Smith work on include working with bands for resistance, medicine balls for added upper body strength and lunges for upper leg explosion.
Additionally, Crowder’s agility workouts roll over into his shooting and ball-handling drills.
The high volume of shots and the intensity of dribbling drills has helped Crowder maintain peak physical condition and improve his range.
Many of Crowder’s shooting workouts include moving without the ball and coming off screens, while his dribbling workouts include lateral movement and quick direction change.
“I’m trying to make him bigger, quicker, faster and stronger, regardless of where he’s playing,” Smith said. “I’m trying to make him more athletic. His footwork is great, and I want that to transition to basketball.”
Whatever his agility drills, both Lee and Smith agreed that Crowder’s attitude and commitment are vital to improving his agility.
That, they said, is something Crowder has had no problem doing.
“They’re easy to work with because they work,” Lee said of Crowder and Johnson-Odom. “There’s pretty much zero motivation needed on my part. They’re ready to work and ready to get better every day.”