Friday, May 4, 2018

How, and why, Albany guard Joe Cremo became one of the hottest targets in college basketball

Grad transfer set to take official visit with KU this weekend

Albany guard Joe Cremo (24) attempts a layup past the defense of Louisville forward Ray Spalding (13), and forward Anas Mahmoud (14) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in Louisville, Ky.

Albany guard Joe Cremo (24) attempts a layup past the defense of Louisville forward Ray Spalding (13), and forward Anas Mahmoud (14) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in Louisville, Ky.


In the period of about four weeks, Joe Cremo transformed himself from little-known college basketball player who hails from a town of 3,000 people just north of Albany, N.Y., to one of the hottest commodities on the recruiting trail.

And he did it by betting on himself.

Cremo, you might already know, is the latest graduate transfer to make headlines by attracting the attention of some of the biggest Division I programs in the country, including Kansas.

After deciding to leave the University of Albany after three seasons, Cremo visited defending national champion Villanova earlier this week and is headed to Lawrence for the weekend for an official visit with Bill Self and company.


Albany guard Joe Cremo (24) attempts to drive past Louisville forward Deng Adel (22) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. Louisville won 70-68.

While the past few weeks have been enjoyable, they also have been like nothing Cremo has ever experienced. During his high school days in small-town Scotia, N.Y., the 6-foot-4 shooting guard committed to Albany as a high school junior and never once took an actual recruiting visit.

Now he gets five of them and they're taking him places he never dreamed he would go.

“It's just like, 'Wow.' It's a reality check,” Cremo recently said during an interview with 104.5 ESPN Radio in Albany. “I told some of my friends from home, 'Man, I'm kind of messed up in the head right now. But in a good way.' I'm like on cloud nine. I'm talking to these big time coaches and it's been humbling for me. And I'm just trying to take it all in.”

Cremo's decision to move on from Albany, a program he grew up around, where older family members played, had nothing to do with Albany at all. Sure, Cremo was disappointed that the Great Danes could never crack the NCAA Tournament field by winning the America East Conference. But a return for his senior season would give him one more chance. One problem. Cremo has been hearing about that one more chance business for the past couple of years and he's ready to challenge himself in a much different way.

“That's always been my goal and that was my goal at Albany,” Cremo said of getting to the NCAA Tournament. “People are going to say, 'Hey, you can do that next year.' But I really feel like I can compete with anybody. And after talking with my family, we just thought it would be OK to do this. You don't want to look back and say, 'What if?'

“It was just about me trying to play at the highest level. And anybody that knows me, from my high school teammates to close friends to family, knows that I always wanted to play at the highest level, to just have a chance to play there and prove that I could play against the best.”

Now that he seems to be sitting on the brink of that very opportunity — no matter where he ends up — Cremo is doing his best to take things slow and really study which school would be the best for him to complete his college career.

“I haven't consistently been enjoying playing basketball the last couple years and a lot of it has to do with winning,” said Cremo, who helped guide Albany to a 67-33 record during his three seasons with the program. “But, at the end of the day, just me being happy and being able to compete and enjoy it, that's a big part of it.

“Fit is huge for me, a chance where I'll be able to have a big role and play. Playing time is big for me. Nothing's guaranteed. A lot of schools can say this and that, but nothing's guaranteed.”

Having heard from a couple dozen different programs, big and small, since he made the decision to leave Albany in late March, Cremo said the whole experience had “been a little crazy.”

But taking his time with it and really trying to get a feel for what each coach and program was looking for has helped him digest it all. He said hearing from coaches who were willing to fly out to visit him made a big impact and served as a strong statement on just how serious they were about adding Cremo to their rosters.

“I know time is valuable for a lot of these coaches and it is for me, too,” he said. “I don't want to waste their time and they don't want to waste my time. So you got to be straight up and honest with some people. That's kind of how it goes. Like I said, I'm new to all this recruiting and I just figured that out. You have to be honest with some people and they'll respect it.”

At the end of the day, it's Cremo who has all of the control here. Each of the programs pursuing him is doing so because they have a hole to fill. For Kansas, which is loaded with talent on next year's roster but light on outside shooting, the idea of adding a career 42 percent 3-point shooter who has logged big minutes and shot 46 percent from 3-point range a year ago, certainly would address that issue.

And for Cremo, who said he would always consider himself a part of the Albany program and be a Dane for life, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go prove himself at the highest level was too good to pass up.

“It's nothing personal,” he said. “It's just me trying to take a chance on myself.”


Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 9 months ago

Sounds like a very bright and focused young man. He would be a great addition, but I suspect that he will end up somewhere nearer to his home - - probably Villanova.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 9 months ago

Self must already be sold on Cremo and seems to be spending the time needed in order to recruit him. I just don't see him coming to Kansas and fighting for minutes with all the opportunities available to him to play immediately.

Harlan may have nailed it with Villanova where Brunson declared for the draft. McDonald's All-American and Villanova recruit, Jahvon Quinerly, plays at the point giving Cremo a much better chance to play more minutes.

I still favor picking up one more frontcourt player just to avoid a 3rd straight year of having not enough players. If Sousa is gone (most likely) and Udoka jumps to the NBA (not as likely) we would be down to Lightfoot, Lawson, and McCormick.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 8 months ago

There would be two Lawson's in the front court. If Doke and DeSousa are there next year, it would be Dedric and McCormack in the low post and Mitch and KJ Lawson as stretch 4's.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 8 months ago

Dedric is our best PF who can stretch the D. Why would you have him playing the low post?

Don't get it.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 8 months ago

3 reasons, assuming Doke and Silvio and not around next season (very likely).

Reason one is that Dedric would be the best low post scorer KU has next season. Reason two is that Dedric is the best rebounder KU will have next season. And finally reason three is that Dedric is a career 30% shooter from 3.

I might not be the smartest person there is, but I know enough to know I don't want a big man who shoots 30% from 3 doing very much on the perimeter. Dedric is also a very good FT shooter for a big man. I want someone with Dedric's skill set staying close to the basket because that's where he's most effective.

Brian Conrad 3 years, 9 months ago

Well self does not get the big money and top 5 cosch because We are smarter. Love some posts. First Nova prob is loaded at guard even more than us . We lost Devonte and Svi and Vick and Newman They lost Brunsen . Second think self highly expects Sosa or Dok to play , but “ down to Lawson , McCormick and Mitch wooo is me ... top ten high school guy , some considered best big in practice AND a Lucas type 3 rd year guy ... we have few months for KU to pound NCAA for a ruling on Sosa . If they clear him to play AGAIN. We are fine. But again Dok back would be solid. This year will have 4 teams separate from field to be solid contenders. KU will be one of them

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 8 months ago

"Nova prob is loaded at guard even more than us"

You might think so but you would be wrong. They lost not only Brunsen but Mikal Bridges as well. They do have Jahvon Quinerly coming in but our incoming guards more than make up for Nova's.

Brian Wilson 3 years, 9 months ago

I just don't get it. We continue to short ourselves inside. I understand this kid might be a good addition and that he is a good outside shooter, But, what people are not understanding is this.....

That is where they will play in the NBA, and that is where they should play in college. If Lawson plays PF at KU, he will get trampled by bigger more talented players from top 20 teams.

If AZ and Sousa leave we are in worse position with big men than ever! And, if we are shorting ourselves in outside shooters, then we should plan ahead. To me, with our talent, our current recruits and players should just start practicing their three's. One of them will come through. We already have 6+ guards (Moore, Cunliffe, Garret, Grimes, Dotson, Ochai, and Teahan on bench and only 4 will get to play very much.

There are two 6'10 transfers coming out of Kentucky. not to mention a bunch of others as well as 5 star Jordan Brown not yet decided plus others. We should make a run at them.

Enuff said!!

Dirk Medema 3 years, 9 months ago

There aren't bigger more talented 4's in college that are going to trample Dedric.

What's funnier is that you list Chris Teahan in your argument. Totally respect his contribution to the team, but he is a non-factor in any discussion regarding who is recruited or not. There will be more than 1 guard off the bench supporting 3 perimeter starters - or have you not joined the 21st century and still referring to the 3 spot as a front court player.

Brian Wilson 3 years, 8 months ago

As I said Med...Teahan is on the bench! He only gets minutes if we have a rash of guard injuries. But, he is on the team, we have six other guards ahead of him, and he could give 5-8min/game in a pinch.

We will see on the Lawson brothers. Dedric remind of Ellis with longer arms and little more athletic. IMO, to small to play against the really big PF in the NBA with ball skills, shot, and speed not enough for the 3 in the NBA. So yes.....he is big enough in college but IMO not against really big 5 Star PF's. And, in March that could be an issue but luckily we should have a 7 footer to go with him.. But....we'll see.

Dale Kroening 3 years, 9 months ago

Dedrick Lawson is NOT A SMALL FORWARD , your dead wrong . He was a center in HS and F/C at Memphis . 19.2ppg ~ 9.9rpg ~ 2.1bpg in his last year at Memphis , and 15.8ppg ~ 9.3rpg ~ 1.7bpg as a frosh . He's athletic and a good passer , but doesn't have the handles or quickness to play sf in college except maybe in a pinch , nor is he quick enough to guard the position , and in no way a sf in the league . The range for his jumper is 10-15 feet . A career 31% 3 pt shooter . NBA GMs see him as a POWER FORWARD and is listed as such in mock drafts that he's listed . His brother is a SF , but Dedrick is not . Dedrick Lawson = Darrell Arthur

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 8 months ago

Since when is 6-9 and 230 lbs. a 3 in the college game?

And Self is going after Cremo because KU doesn't project out to be a very good outside shooting team next year.

Michael Bennett 3 years, 8 months ago

Dedric isn't quick enough to be a KU 3 (think Vick, Rush, etc.), you don't want him on the wing full-time. He would slow down the offense. He's 6'9" 230 lbs (Robinson sized), he's protypical college 4-man who averaged a double-double at Memphis. And I bet you that's his NBA position as well, not that it matters. The best place to play him is where he plays best, and that's as a 4/5.

Jay Scott 3 years, 8 months ago

Brian Wilson? From the Beach Boys? Get back on the meds bro....

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 8 months ago

Previous articles have stated that Dedrick has shown an ability to shoot from outside according to Coach Self. Therefore, he is more versatile than some may think.

His strength will be as a 4/5 because of his rebounding. It is a great combination to have.

Silvio and Mitch have had to play the 5 out of necessity, but they are primarily power forwards if they can prove that they have a somewhat consistent outside shot. With Silvio, that likely won't be seen in college as his KU days are probably over (hope not!).

Mitch has shown an outside shot on occasions which is the key to his future. He rebounds and blocks shots, but his future rests on becoming more of a multiple threat player.

I agree with you too, Marius. You can never have too many big men. As you say, if Silvio is through and Udoka doesn't return, KU will only be slightly more talented inside than they were this year. That is why I have been saying that Udoka is really the key to next year, especially if Coach Self wants to return to his traditional playing style.

The great thing about Coach Self and his staff is that they always adapt to whatever talent they have.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 8 months ago

There's no difference between a 5 and traditional style 4 in the college game anymore. Silvio and Dedric are primarily low post players can knock down an outside shot if left alone at the top of the key, at least in Dedric's case.

Right now, the offense is shaping up to look a lot like it did in 2011 when the Morris twins were the post players and each could knock down outside shots.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 8 months ago

Traditional Style? Sounds like a jar Ragu sauce.

Why the change on Dedric?

"I might not be the smartest person there is, but I know enough to know I don't want a big man who shoots 30% from 3 doing very much on the perimeter"

OK, you are half correct.

Robert Brock 3 years, 8 months ago

The Jayhawks can use somebody who can really nail the outside shot. Svi, Newman, and Graham are gone.

Cremo could bring an element that is necessary in today’s NCAA game. Gotta have shooters.

John Harrington 3 years, 8 months ago

Any chance Vick comes back? He didn't hire an agent......... I know it's a long shot, but...

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 8 months ago

No chance because Vick didn't leave KU voluntarily. According to Self, Vick had no interest in being a leader and since he would've been the only senior next season, that wouldn't have worked out very well so Self told Vick he wasn't coming back next season.

RJ King 3 years, 8 months ago

Do we know that? Or are you just surmising?

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 8 months ago

That would have certainly made the rounds if true. Any Links?

Brian Leslie 3 years, 8 months ago

Dedric is going to remind people of a bigger, better rebounding (but less athletic) Marcus Morris. He has a good back-to-the-basket post game, and he can break defenders down from 17-20 feet out. One unusual thing is that he will drive right at his defender and then launch a floater from 10 feet. There are entire Memphis basketball games posted on Youtube if you really want to scout him.

Also, K.J. played every minute at the 4 at Memphis. He was the 3rd-leading rebounder in the AAC (playing next to leading rebounder Dedric). He is 6'8" with an unusually long wing-span. His size is fine as a college 4.

If people haven't noticed, the 4 & 5 spots have evolved under Self lately. K.J. fits in perfectly with what we have been doing at the 4.

Edward Daub 3 years, 8 months ago

The Cremo Rises to the Top! Our Proximity to Topeka is a Plus, Joe likes to play in State Capitols? A Long Shot that we land him.

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