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Drew Crowell got bounced around in the paint early in his prep career at West Ashley High School. Wildcats coach Ronnie DuPre convinced Crowell it was in his best interest to play up, a long term plan of sorts to help create a college player.
To this day, the 31-year-old St. John’s Christian boys basketball coach thanks DuPre any time their paths cross for compelling him to expand his skillset and basketball IQ. Crowell eventually developed into an all-state center and North-South all-star before graduating West Ashley in 2007.
“I have a ton of stories of stuff we used to do back then,” the 6-feet, 9-inch Crowell said of the 61-year-old DuPre, who announced his retirement on July 29. “You knew who was out there to get better and who was out there to just put a jersey on. He made you work. When I got to college, the type of practices we had in high school really helped me.”
Crowell averaged a double-double his last two seasons for the Wildcats and snagged an opportunity at the next level as a forward for Wofford. Crowell suited up for two NCAA Tournament teams with the Terriers and averaged 9.2 points and 5.5 rebounds as a redshirt senior in 2011-12.
That solid college career may have never come to pass if DuPre wasn’t demanding day in and day out. DuPre sent Crowell home countless times asking for more out of his big man. Crowell recalls a game against Goose Creek High School when he was a junior and may have scored 12 points on six shots.
DuPre was on Crowell the next day, though, in front of the whole team as they watched film. Crowell had dribbled just seven times — three times in the backcourt and four times in the frontcourt — and DuPre said that wasn’t effective enough. He needed Crowell to exert himself more.
“Coach DuPre was like I’m not going to let anything get past me. I’m not going to let you get away with anything,” Crowell said. “At times, I went home thinking man, this guy hates me. Looking back, he just wanted the most out of us. I owe him for him helping me get to college.”
Dupre won 614 games in 33 seasons at James Island and West Ashley, claiming a state championship in 1992 at James Island. He was inducted into the S.C. Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2015.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to play for anybody else in the Lowcountry,” Crowell said.
He is heading into his fifth season at St. John’s Christian this winter when the Cavaliers will have some key players returning. No doubt he’ll throw some young players to the Wolves because he believes in them.
“I try to do the same thing he did for me,” Crowell said. “I try to bring kids up who I see need a year of development but don’t need to play JV. You might get beat up for a year but it’s going to pay off for two years.”