By Pedro Velazco
Tipton senior basketball star Mike Crawford has one more jersey to put on before joining the Saint Louis Billikens next season.
This summer, he’ll wear the Red, White and Blue of the Indiana All-Stars as they line up against Kentucky. The Indiana team was announced Tuesday and Tipton’s all-time leading scorer secured a spot on the 13-player roster.
“I’m super excited,” Crawford said. “I’m really appreciative that I got voted on there and I’m looking forward to competing against some of the best players from Kentucky on a team with some of the best players in Indiana.”
The Indiana and Kentucky teams will square off on June 14 in Louisville, and June 15 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Crawford doesn’t need a history lesson on how big a deal his selection is.
“It’s almost like a dream come true,” he said. “It’s been in the back of my mind as one of my goals ever since I started. I’ve seen some of the best players ever in that game and I’m just glad I can say that I’m playing in that same game they used to play in.
“I think I’ve been to the last four years for sure, and I think I went when Greg Oden was down there [in 2006]. It’s a neat experience and it’s going to be fun being on that court and playing in that game.”
Crawford, who finished third in the voting for Mr. Basketball, averaged 27.7 points and 8.9 rebounds as a senior, leading the Blue Devils to a 25-3 record and a Class 2A semistate appearance. He was an easy choice for the squad according to Indiana All-Star game director Charlie Hall.
“Sometimes there’s a lot of criteria that we use to select All-Stars,” said Hall, a former Kokomo Wildkat player and coach. “Mike checks all the boxes — character, talent, team success.”
Hall also noted how well Crawford played in big games as an eye-opener. He said he saw Crawford five or six times in person, which was more than enough to know he would command a spot on the squad.
“When you see a kid like him a couple times, you can move on,” Hall said. “I don’t have to see him five times to realize that he’s a player.
“I like the way he does whatever is needed at that time. If that calls for being a facilitator, he can do that. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen him take a bad shot. He’s about as efficient as he can be. What did he score, 27 [per game]? It’s a very unassuming and efficient 27. Some people can get 27 and it feels like they took every shot for their team. He puts up a very efficient 27 points.”
Crawford has played with or against many of the Indiana players already and is impressed with the athleticism and skill of the Indiana group. He’ll want them on his side when the action tips off. Crawford got an idea of what to expect last year.
“Last year I played with the Junior All-Stars and we played the Kentucky Juniors,” Crawford explained. “I really wasn’t expecting it to be that competitive and that fierce, but when you get into the game, it’s all about winning. There’s no more friends, it’s about winning that game.
“You show up and you’re in warmups and it’s pretty loose, and then you get in the game and the lights go on and people start shoving each other. It gets real intense real fast.”
The All-Star selection is the latest in a series of honors for Crawford. Earlier, he received second-team all-state honors from the Associated Press and senior all-state honors from the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association, and was named the MVP of the Kokomo Tribune’s All-Area Team.