When it comes to Pitt basketball recruiting, no AAU team has been on Pitt’s radar more than Team Durant, whose strong 16u and 17u teams have been on top of the EYBL this spring and summer.
Players such as Judah Mintz, Rodney Gallagher, Shawn Simmons, Kwame Evans Jr., Amani Hansberry, Jahnathan Lamothe are all members of the Team Durant program who are being recruited by Jeff Capel and his staff, and the newest addition to the list is one of the 17u forwards in the program, Khalif Crawley.
Crawley is one of the stronger players on the squad, and he has seen his college interest increase exponentially over the past few months. For Pitt, Assistant Coach Tim O’Toole has been leading the way in the recruitment of Crawley.
“Coach O’Toole contacted me after the game I played against E1T1, another EYBL team,” Crawley told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “He was basically getting to know me. He was asking me what is the best cheesesteak spot in Philadelphia, he was telling me how they liked my game and how the coaching staff was looking at me, they like my game and my play style. He was asking about my recruitment, other schools that have been recruiting me. We talked about how I like to play with Judah Mintz. Judah was actually on an official visit there not too long ago. That’s one of my teammates from Team Durant. He was asking me about him.”
“I’m focused now the sh*t that don’t matter won’t even cross my mind” 💆🏾♂️ pic.twitter.com/jYLe9V7O3N
— Khalif Crawley Jr (@BigDeuceee) June 11, 2021
Crawley is a 6-foot-9 power forward out of Philadelphia, who has seen not only his off-the-court relationship with Mintz but also his overall game grow since his first day with the program.
“When I first joined Team Durant, Judah was actually the first person that texted me,” he added. “He texted me touching base, we talked. Team Durant welcomed me in with open arms, and so did Judah. He is actually a real cool dude, he’s funny. On the court, Judah is like a wizard. I don’t know how he makes certain shots. He gets that pump fake, gets you in the air, body pumps, gets to his spots every single time and gets his shots up. He is very athletic. He’s got sneaky bounce. You won’t think he is going to dunk on you but he’ll dunk the ball on you. He looks at me a lot too. I got a lot of post looks from Judah. So yeah, Judah is a good dude on and off the court.”
In addition to Pitt, Crawley is being recruited by Penn State, Maryland, Georgetown, La Salle, St. Peters, North Carolina A&T, Radford, Mount Saint Marys, and more. While he does not hold an offer from Pitt yet, he does have strong family ties to the school and says he would not be the only one excited if he picked up an offer from Capel.
“An offer from Pitt would mean a lot, not only to me but to my grandparents,” he said. “My grandma and my grandfather they actually both went there, that’s how they met each other. So it would mean a lot to me too. Besides that, it would mean a lot to me. Pitt is an ACC school, a top school, and I like their play style. I really like how me and Coach Tim O’Toole connected on the first phone call. I felt like he had a lot of interest after seeing me play just one time. It’s like, wow. If they’re showing this much interest here, imagine what they’re going to do later on when I am ready to commit, or how much love they’re going to show me on a visit. That means a lot.”
While Mintz is set to make his decision on June 18, Crawley does not yet have a date scheduled for his commitment. The 240-pound prospect prides himself on his ability to shoot as well as bully the opposition, no matter the size.
“At my size, I can shoot the ball very well,” Crawley said. “I’ve got good touch, I’ve always had good touch. I am like a bruiser-type player. I can play bully ball. A lot of people don’t like to play that any more. I can post, I like to bully people my size, bigger, or smaller, I don’t take any plays off. I like to bully people. I’ve got post moves, I can get to my spots. Those are my strengths. Shooting and bullying people.”
Crawley, who plays his high school ball for Mathematics, Civics, and Sciences Charter School, attributes his bully-ball mentality to his Philly roots.
“It’s gritty,” he said about the basketball scene in his hometown. “If you step on the court in Philly and you play soft, they’re going to take you out hard. If you show one sign of fear, you’re going to hear it. The person that’s guarding you, he’s going to go at you, go at you until you show that sign of fear. That’s what makes you tough in Philly. Especially North Philly. You just need that heart in Philadelphia.”