Crockrel just what RedStorm needs

Published 11:55 pm Saturday, May 16, 2009

One look a Mercedes Crockrel and University of Rio Grande head coach Dave Smalley knew she was the type of player he needed.

So Smalley began to recruit the 5-foot-10 Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers senior basketball standout. His efforts were rewarded as Crockrel signed a letter-of-intent to play for the RedStorm.

“She is very athletic. I love her body build. It’s great for the college game,” said Rio Grande head coach Dave Smalley.

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“She’ll probably play the wing, but she can play four positions on the floor. We look to mix her up. Once she learns our system and adjusts to the college level, she can break into our lineup as a freshman.”

The RedStorm will enter the Mid-South Conference in the fall and Smalley said the level of competition must increase for the entire team.

“We have to elevate our ability level and I think Mercedes will do that,” said Smalley.

Crockrel said Smalley’s persistence was a factor in her attending Rio Grande, plus the fact she has a chance to play early in her career.

“It’s going to be a good opportunity. It’ll make me get better. That’s going to be fun,” said Crockrel.

Stepping up to the next level is a challenge that Crockrel isn’t taking lightly.

“I don’t feel I’m ready right now. I’ll be nervous. I just need to get in there,” said Crockrel.

“I pass the ball well. My defense will be the thing that has to be the most improved if I want to play. And I need to get more confidence in my shot.”

Crockrel was a four-year starter for the Lady Tigers and helped them to four straight sectional titles and three district championships. Ironton also won the SEOAL South Division title her sophomore season.

Crockrel was a two-time all-district selection including first team honors this past season when she shared the Division III Co-Player of the Year. She was second team All-Ohio.

She was a two-time All-SEOAL selection.

“She brings to the table a lot of ways to score and she has basketball toughness,” said Ironton Lady Tigers’ coach Doug Graham.

“With those kind of assets, she can go in there and play right away.”

Crockrel, who plans to major in nursing, is the daughter of John and Janet Crockrel of Ironton.