Stepping out of the shadows of Dwight Howard, the number one pick in 2004 NBA Draft, isn’t easy but it is something Javaris Crittenton is trying to relish in. The 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard from Southwest Atlanta Christian (Ga.) High School now is the go-to guy for the small private school and he’s playing like the high-major prospect that he is.
Defending the Georgia single A state championship won’t be easy, especially without Howard. Life without the former prep star won’t be easy either and Crittenton knows that.
“Any time you don’t have him is hard. It’s something we knew were going to have to do so we prepared for it,” Crittenton said. “Living without him will be hard but it is also time for me to come out of the shadows. I want to show that I can do my own thing, too.”
On Wednesday night, SACA lost to a guard strong Sandy Creek team 79-73 in overtime in the first round of the Southern Company Gas Holiday Classic in Lilburn. Crittenton scored 34 points on 12 of 27 shooting, including six of 11 from downtown. Crittenton rounded also pulled down six rebounds, had five steals, four assists and two steals. What was most impressive was his admission after the game.
“I lost the game for us,” he said. “I didn’t help my teammates when they needed me at the end. I have to play hard from start to finish and tonight I didn’t do that.”
With a strained MCL on his right knee, Crittenton displayed a much-improved three point shot and pulled up several times from NBA range for the long ball. He said he spent the summer trying to improve his shooting touch.
“Me and my AAU coaches worked on my shot the whole summer,” he said. “We’d put a chair up at the top of the key and I’d come around that like I was coming off of a screen and I’d stop and pop the shot. We’d do it over and over again. I’ve got a lot more confidence in my shot.”
It showed on Wednesday night. In fact, it was one of the better times we’ve seen him shoot the ball from the wing.
As the season progresses, Crittenton knows college recruiters will come out to watch him play. Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida State, Florida and Arkansas all stopped by to see him in the evaluation period. Many more will come around.
It has been long assumed that Georgia Tech would be the school to beat for Crittenton and while he doesn’t deny that, he says he wants to take his time.
“A lot of people think I’m going to go to Tech,” Crittenton says openly. “That’s fine and I can understand that but I’m going to weigh my options. I want to sit back and concentrate on it before anything happens. There is a time for everything and when that time comes around, I’ll sit down with my parents and coaches and think about that.”
For now, it’s game time.