The Veterans’ Last Shot

Posted on January 23, 2014


By Johnny Dunavant

In the world of college basketball today, where players like Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins reign as kings, the sport is obsessed with its 18 and 19 year old future lottery picks. As spectacular as these young marvels may be, too often veteran players are overlooked in terms of both their talent level and their overall significance. The University of Memphis possesses two senior guards who by no means dominate national headlines, yet have provided men’s head basketball coach Josh Pastner with four years of dedication, hard work, and most notably, winning records.

By now, you know the names Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford. The duo’s playing days date back far before their college commitment, as both young men are products of the city itself. While Chris hails from Sheffield High, a team that Crawford returned to relevancy in 2009-2010 by winning the Class AA City Championship for the first time in nearly 15 years, Joe’s high school playing days took place in the Spartan Palace. In his senior season, the wiry 6’0 guard added another gold ball to White Station’s decorated trophy case, ending an incredible career than placed him 4th on the all-time leading scorers list in the state of Tennessee. Joe Jackson pledged his allegiance to the U of M in mid-September, while Crawford followed suit a few weeks later with a commitment of his own.

Fast forward four years, where Joe and Chris are deep into the trenches of conference play. While expectations of dominance have certainly been altered, by no means has their final season been a disappointment. The legacy of college basketball teams is ultimately defined in March, and historically speaking, this Tiger team has as good a shot as anybody when it comes to cutting down the nets in Dallas. Six of the last seven national champions have produced a roster led by upperclassmen guards. From Kemba Walker’s brilliant performance in the 2011 tournament, to Florida’s trio of Taurean Green, Corey brewer and Lee Humphreys in 2007, it’s evident that experience wins championships. With the agony of defeat in the 2008 National Championship Game still fresh in the hearts and minds of Memphians, Crawford and Jackson have the unique opportunity to lead the Tigers to glory this spring, and forever cement their respected legacies.

Johnny Dunavant is a Business & Commerce major at Rhodes College.

Posted in: Sports, Tigers