Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Every successful team has one.
The grinder, the hard worker, the player who is always doing whatever he can to better himself and the team. The leader who always puts the team first. The player who has been through the fire, and makes sure his teammates learn from his experiences.
For Texas Tech, that player is junior forward Jaye Crockett.
"It's great being able to give my knowledge to my teammates," Crockett said. "Because I have been through it. This is my fourth year playing. I just learned from all the different coaches I have had, so I enjoy being able to give some information out to new players."
First-year head basketball coach Chris Walker agrees, and says Crockett has the ear of the younger Red Raiders because he has their respect.
"With Jaye's personality, I think that the guys really like him, and they respect him." Walker said. "Jaye's been here the longest and he has certainly earned his stripes."
Indeed he has.
Being a sixth man, and fighting through injuries through most of last year, Crockett knows he has to work to achieve his potential.
"I've been working hard," Crockett said. "I've been in the gym everyday after practice, and between classes. I'm just really working on my game."
Walker has seen Crockett fight, and is proud to see the Clovis, N.M. native never giving up or settling.
"He suffered through a lot," Walker said. "He was injured last year, and I just think that it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. He's getting the fruits of his labor. He worked really hard on his game this summer, and good things happen to good people."
But every the team player, Crockett is reluctant to talk about his own success. He, rather, draws attention to the rest of the Red Raiders on the court alongside him.
"I have to say how hard our team works," Crockett said when asked to describe how he has been successful this year. "Our guards are great. They can draw three people on them at once, then dish it off to the open man."
Walker isn't quite as modest when talking about Crockett's success. When asked about Crockett's success this season, Walker attributes more than just the junior forward's skill set.
"I would just say his calm demeanor," Walker said. "He's always had ability, it's just that the style of play has allowed him to flourish with a little more freedom. When he's healthy, he's a pretty good player."
Crockett has certainly flourished this season. Through eight games, Crockett leads the Red Raiders in a multitude of categories, including points per game (16.4), minutes per game (26.9), and rebounds per game (8.9).
However, it is the last stat in which Crockett takes the most pride.
"My greatest strength is rebounding, finding where the ball is going to come off the rim," Crockett said. "It's a process of working hard, but you have to get your body ready to go wherever - and have the timing and knowledge."
While Crockett leads the team in many of the major statistical categories, many are surprised to find that he is the Red Raider's sixth man. While others may see the starting position as more glamorous or consisting of the better players, Crockett isn't buying it.
"I really don't pay attention to the whole starting or coming off the bench thing," Crockett said. "You come in and out. You can come off the bench and play 39 minutes. But you just have to go out there and be ready to play hard while you're out there."
Crockett even is quick to point out the advantages of coming off the bench.
"Sitting on the bench, you can get your own scouting report," Crockett said. "You can watch whoever you're going to be guarding, or whoever is going to be guarding you. You can see their weaknesses and strengths, and get ready to do it when you go out there."
Walker enjoys the production he is getting out of the junior, and connects his success as a sixth man to the intangible qualities that define Crockett.
"I think his play indicates his willingness and his patience to wait his turn," Walker said. "I love what I see right now, and I don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but he's been playing great. I am very happy to have Jaye part of this program."
But for both, it all comes back to the team.
"It's just his time to shine," Walker said. "If he can continue to do what he's doing, and we get some of the other guys to play up to his level, we have a chance to have a really good year."
Crockett agrees, and has a simple, yet focused outlook.
"My personal goals are to help this team win as many games as possible," he said.
Every successful program has a team player.
The Red Raiders have Jaye Crockett.