To know how much the compliment meant, you have to realize I was once a high school sophomore who watched Louie McCroskey play for St. Raymond’s High School in the HoopHall Invitational at Springfield College and fell in love with his game.
McCroskey was a top-100 recruit at the time, in LeBron James’ high school class. He was headed to Syracuse the following year to play for Jim Boeheim, and he would become a bit of a disappointment for the Orange before transferring to Marist after his junior year.
“I liked playing for Boeheim. He taught me so much about the game, and about the business of the game,” McCroskey said Sunday while participating in an open tryout for the D-League’s Springfield Armor. “He taught me that however hard I worked in practice, no matter how much playing time I received, I had to produce whenever I got those minutes.”
When I asked McCroskey whether his confidence faltered a little bit with reduced minutes, he shook his head.
“It wasn’t that. Well, that was a little tough. But I always trusted my game,” he said. “I don’t know. We didn’t have much of an offensive structure at Syracuse. I came from a high school where everything we did had a design. Boeheim let his stars play and wanted the other guys to just play a role. And that’s good. Teams need that. Basketball’s all about finding a role. But for me, I guess I needed more structure. I’m a guy who thrives with a set offense. I know how to play. I can do a lot of things. I just didn’t always show it at Syracuse.”
But in 2003 he was a stud, and I was a fan at Springfield College watching his game. When reminded that he had played at Springfield College before, McCroskey chuckled.
“Wow, that was a long time ago. Yeah, I remember that,” he said. “Who’d we play? Peekskill, with Hilton Armstrong, right? Man, those were the days.”
I didn’t remember who he played, and for one of the first times ever, Google failed me when I tried to find out. But just know I was once a big McCroskey fan, marveling at his size and smoothness for a guard.
Which is why it meant so much when, before he knew I was a reporter just competing at the tryout to write a story, McCroskey paid me a great compliment.
“Man, you can really shoot, huh?”
Before I start blushing, let me direct you to my story on the full tryout.