2014 NEWS-SENTINEL ALL AREA TEAM
Tre'Vion Crews, senior, North Side
Caleb Swanigan, sophomore, Homestead
D.J. McCall, senior, Concordia Lutheran
Devlyn Williams, junior, Snider
Steve McElvene, senior, New Haven
Jaylin Bennett, senior, Woodlan
Justin McCoy, junior, Garrett
Grady Eifert, senior, Bishop Dwenger
Mike Davis, senior, North Side
Chandler White, junior, Carroll
Justin Mitchell, senior, Wayne
Wes Davidson, senior, Blackhawk Christian
The list of elite Fort Wayne-area basketball players who have graced asphalt courts in the summer and gyms in the winter has grown quite long over the years.
Unfortunately, there is a coinciding list of talented kids who never reached their potential. Whether it was grades, discipline problems or plain lethargy, plenty of players have washed out instead of making good.
North Side senior Tre’Vion Crews was once on that path. He played in just one varsity game his freshman season, relegated to the lower-tier squads due to bad grades.
“I didn’t care,” said Crews about his early high school career. “I didn’t care about anything.”
The one game Crews saw action in was in sectionals, with North Side falling to South Side 88-71. What he saw in the locker room after the game made something click.
“At the end of the game they lost, and all the guys were crying in (the locker room),” Crews said. “That’s when it clicked. I wanted it.”
It has not been an easy process for Crews, who admits that basketball initially drove him to his studies so he could stay eligible.
Concentrating on the classroom sounds like a simple decision, but it’s one that so many in Crews’ position in the past have not made.
“Sometimes I just skipped (school), I said I didn’t even want to be (there),” Crews said. “There was just something that changed that was like, ‘Maybe it’s about time I start hitting the books more.’”
Not only has Crews steadily improved in the classroom, he has steadily improved his basketball skills. His performance over his senior season for the Redskins has earned him the 2014 News-Sentinel Boys Basketball Player of the Year honor, voted on by The News-Sentinel sports staff.
Crews averaged 17.1 points and 7.4 assists per game for North Side, which set a program record with a .923 winning percentage by going 24-2 and winning SAC Tournament, regular season and sectional championships.
The accomplishments Crews earned as a senior were a far cry from his days as an underclassman.
“It was two-fold with Tre (as a freshman),” North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said. “No. 1, he did have an unwillingness to do what he needed to do in the classroom … that’s why he played freshman ball.
“But No. 2, he didn’t have any discipline issues, he wasn’t a kid that was in trouble, he’s never been in trouble. He was just a young man who at the time did not do the things he needed to do academically.”
After his freshman year, Crews worked on his classwork and put in work in the gym. He got better at both. It wasn’t a meteoric rise by any means, but steady progress nonetheless.
“I was nervous every game I played (sophomore year),” Crews said. “It was still a learning thing for me.”
In fact, it did not really click with Crews that he was a good player until last summer. Even then, Khaliq had to coax him to shoot more and try to take control of games as a senior, a far cry from the majority of talented scorers at the prep level.
If Crews wasn’t convinced he is one of the best in the state, being named one of the top 15 seniors in Indiana by the IBCA recently surely did that.
“To convince Tre that he is the best player on the floor has been difficult,” Khaliq said. “It’s a process and it’s something that I don’t know if he truly believes all the time.”
Crews will have a chance to keep proving himself at Jackson College in Michigan next season. Many believe he could have gone Division I – and he may still do so after a two-year commitment to Jackson – but early high school struggles held him back.
Those days seem worlds away to the current Tre’Vion Crews.
“If you spoke with him without knowing him, you’d never expect he had those early struggles in the classroom because he is so articulate,” said Khaliq about Crews. “We have two (freshman guards) … their parents have told me that Tre is the best role model they could possibly have.
“Tre has set the tone by saying, ‘Hey, don’t wait as long as I did to get it done in the classroom.’ But at the same time he can say, ‘Hey, look at what I’ve been able to accomplish because of the hard work I’ve put in.’”
Crews is not the type of player who takes to Twitter to hype himself. He lets his play do the talking.
And his head coach.
“He didn’t come in North Side as the best player in the city out of middle school, but he leaves North Side as the best player in the city,” Khaliq said. “There is that understanding that if you work hard and do what you’re supposed to do then good things can happen.”