Milwaukee Trip Feels Like Homecoming to Crowder, Turner
MILWAUKEE – Jae Crowder and Evan Turner are back home.
Well, sort of.
Neither Crowder nor Turner are from Wisconsin, but there will be a taste of home in the air when they take on the Bucks at 8 p.m. tonight at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Crowder is a native of Villa Rica, Ga., where he was born and raised. But two of the fondest years of his life unfolded right here in Milwaukee.
He was a late bloomer in a basketball sense and spent his first two collegiate years as a junior college athlete. Following a productive sophomore season at Howard College, Crowder transferred to Marquette University, which is located in downtown Milwaukee.
Crowder went on to become the Big East Player of the Year during his second and final season with the Golden Eagles, racking up some of his fondest memories along the way.
“My last game here in the Bradley Center as a Golden Eagle (is a top memory),” he said before Tuesday morning’s shootaround. “My mom and a lot of family were in town for that game. We played Georgetown and we got a win. It was great. That’s probably my last memory and my greatest memory.”
Maybe that’s because he scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to propel Marquette to an easy 83-69 win.
Many locals remember Crowder well for his brief yet successful career with the Golden Eagles, which included a 49-23 record. Many of them are familiar faces that he sees every time he returns to Milwaukee and the Bradley Center.
“I know all the ushers here, I know all the people working in the front (of the arena),” he said. “It’s crazy. I have flashbacks each and every time I come here because I spent a lot of my time in this arena.
“It’s great to see the Marquette fans and some of my extended family I had here during my time. It’s always a good feeling to come back.”
Turner, who attended Ohio State University, won’t be playing in front of his college fans tonight. He will, however, get a chance to play in front of some of his family members.
Turner is a native of Chicago, which is just a short 90-minute drive from Milwaukee. Some of his family members will make the drive north to catch the game tonight, including one very special guest.
“My grandma’s birthday is today and she’s going to come and watch us play,” he said with a smile. “That’s pretty cool.”
Turner went on to discuss why a game like this means so much to him and Crowder alike.
“I just like seeing familiar faces that I actually grew up with and care about,” he said with sincerity. “That’s more special than anything.”
One guy who knows a thing or two about returning home is Crowder and Turner’s coach, Brad Stevens.
Stevens was born in Indianapolis and began his coaching career there at Butler University. He’s fresh off of a trip home on Wednesday, when the Celtics visited the the Pacers, his fifth such trip since taking over as Boston’s head coach. He commented on how enjoyable it is to return home, but also how normal it can become after going through the process a few times.
“It never gets old coming back, and it never gets old being back where you either spent time in college like Jae did or you grew up nearby like Evan did. Those are great things,” Stevens said. “I do think that over time you become more accustomed and used to it, but it is still always a treat to play near your hometown.”
Crowder and Turner certainly appear to be excited about that treat tonight.
Crowder will have an opportunity to play in front of his collegiate fans and in the arena where he logged so many great memories. Turner, meanwhile, may be able to deliver a memorable night to one of his closest family members.
These two guys may not truly be home, but it sure feels like they are.