In the late 80s and early 90s, Corey Crowder ran the courts in Owensboro as a forward for KWC racking up more than 2,000 points and a national championship in his junior season.
But his landing in Owensboro was something of an accident when a KWC coach came near his hometown scouting an opposing team
“The gym had a leak in the roof, so they had to move the game to West Georgia," said Corey Crowder. "That coach of Kentucky Wesleyan ended up sitting beside my principal, Forrest Wheeler, and Mr. Wheeler said ‘there’s a kid at my school that I think you should take a look at’, and that’s how I got to Kentucky Wesleyan.”
The KWC coach, thankfully, listened to Corey’s principal, and the rest is history. Corey became a three-time All American and the 1991 player of the year while at KWC, but even with all the success he had, the NBA was never in eyesight.
“No," said Crowder. "No, no, no, no. You’re at a school of 800 students. You’re playing Division II basketball. You don’t have a dream of going to the NBA.”
Corey said he came to KWC just to get an education and see how far he could make it in basketball, and his first team out of college was a little untraditional.
“My first paying job was in the 6’5" and under league for the Calgary 88ers, because they had the Olympics in Calgary in '88," said Crowder. "That was my first paying job.”
But with extreme hard work and dedication to the game, Corey went from being an un-recruited division two hooper to the first KWC panther to ever play in the NBA, and his son Jae followed a similar, unconventional route to the NBA.
“He (Jae) played at two separate JUCOs before he went to Marquette," said Crowder. "The path at the time seemed hard, but in the back of my mind I preferred it that way, because he had to earn everything he got, and if you look at the way he plays now, he plays the same way. He’s got to earn everything he gets.”
Jae now the starting small forward for the Phoenix Suns. A team that is two wins away from an NBA championship.
“Pride, I mean, you’re going to always be proud," said Crowder. "For me, that’s out of the roof for him, and I tell him as many times as I can, until he gets tired of hearing it, how proud I am of him, but I know how hard the guy works. I know what he puts in. I know the time.”
The Suns currently trail 3-2 against the Milwaukee Bucks and play this Tuesday to force a winner take all home game on Thursday.