- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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Crete-Monee senior Jamee Crockett recently began correcting the media on the spelling of his first name. It's not Jamie.
And it's no longer Jamee Crockett has potential. It's Jamee Crockett has game. Enough game, in fact, to be named the ESPNChicago.com/Muscle Milk Prep Athlete of the Week.
"For many years, it was, ‘Hey, this Crockett kid is really talented, he's really athletic,'" said Crete-Monee coach Matt Ryndak, who took over the program this season. "But now he's putting in the time the last 7-8 months to become a much better perimeter player, to really work hard on defending, to really work hard on rebounding, to really work hard to be a leader.
"To be honest with you, it was him getting to understand how special he could be. He's always been the athlete. He's always played above the rim."
Ryndak said the message was: "You're not just talented. You're not just athletic. You can be one of the best perimeter players in the state of Illinois if you want to be, and here's what you have to do."
The instruction was welcomed by Crockett. He was sick of hearing about the player he could be.
"I haven't heard it in a long time," Crockett said.
The reason why is Crockett began putting in the time this summer with Ryndak to improve, especially in his jump shot. Crockett worked on getting enough lift on each attempt and concentrating on releasing the ball at the same point. He put up shot after shot, trying to use the same form each time whether wide open, off a screen or while driving. In time, he found consistentcy in his form, and soon the ball began falling through the net more.
"I think he needed a lot more confidence," Ryndak said. "He needed more repetition. Some of it was mechanics, but most of it was confidence and getting repetition. Jamee has a desire to want to improve. From the summer to now, he carried a chip on his shoulder. His work ethic has been tremendous. He wants to learn. He wants to understand. He wants to become a more complete basketball player."
The reward for Crockett has been his senior season. The 6-4 swingman has been one of the most consistently dominant players in the state. He's averaged 21 points and eight rebounds and shot 48.5 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3-point range. His scoring numbers are up nearly eight points from last season.
With Crockett's rise, his teammates also are taking a step forward, and with Ryndak's coaching, the Warriors have become one of the area's best teams. Currently ranked No. 11 in ESPNChicago.com's poll, the 17-3 Warriors have shown they can be a state contender in Class 4A.
"I could shoot the ball all the time if I wanted," said Crockett, who only began recently correcting media on the spelling of his first name from Jamie to Jamee. "I decided I didn't want to be selfish. I don't have it in me. It just doesn't feel right. If I'm out there shooting a lot of shots, I'm not making myself look better.
"I got a lot of confidence in my team. I'll put my team up against anyone in the state. I have a lot of confidence we can downstate and only not go, but do something downstate."
Once that's completed, Crockett plans to continue take his winning ways onto DePaul. Crockett has been to a number of the Blue Demons' games this season and has witnessed how they've struggled, but he believes it's only a matter of time before that improves.
"They're a little on the shaky side right now, but as the program starts building up, we're going to be doing a lot," Crockett said. "I talk to [DePaul freshmen] Brandon [Young] and Cleveland [Melvin] all the time over there, and we talk about how we can't wait to get there. We're going to come in and try to change something."