Crews, Coleman share MVP title
Jacob Crews and Dallan Coleman are talented basketball players who refuse to settle – not for mediocre, not for average and not even for being the best in Nassau County. They want to be the best they can each be athletically – and neither is complacent.
“I’m never satisfied,” Coleman said. “I want to keep getting better. … I don’t feel like I’ve put in enough work to get there yet.”
Entering his junior year at West Nassau High School this fall, he plays basketball year-round on AAU and school teams.
Crews, a rising senior at Hilliard Middle-Senior High School, is in the gym daily and never turns down a pick-up game.
“I’m not known as No. 1. I’m not the best in the world. I haven’t made it to my dream yet. I haven’t retired,” Crews said. “There’s no limit to how good you can be, but there’s a limit to how long you can do it.”
He also played travel ball, but is spending his summer competing locally.
Crews and Coleman’s drive for success are what led them to share the honor as the county’s most valuable players. They constantly work to perfect their game.
“Jacob works hard. He wants to be the best, so he works like that,” HMSHS Coach Myron Saunders said. “He’s hungry. He’s hungry to be great. He’s in search of success.”
Both athletes know they’re often targeted by opposing teams.
“His biggest thing now is understanding that he has an X on his back,” WNHS Coach Ran Coleman said of his son. “He understands that with that kind of pressure on him, he has to be on his A game every single time.”
He added that the younger Coleman, nicknamed Deebo, is very humble and willing to learn.
“He’s a coachable kid, very respectful. I don’t think there’s an official or coach who could say anything bad about his sportsmanship.”
Crews has talent “and a gift from God that he’s 6-foot-7,” Saunders noted, adding that Coleman has tenacity.
“I’m a basketball fiend. I love that that kid’s good and his dad’s pushing him to be great. I’m glad he’s doing what he’s doing, because it gives me more ammo to feed Jacob.”
“I tell him to use Deebo as his motivation because he offers him competition,” Saunders added. “Deebo has a passion and puts his work into what he does.”
He added that leaders have an important role, and Crews has led the Flashes well. Crews used to be the first player in the gym and the last one to leave, but now the whole team is inside, working together.
“Everyone’s in the gym now,” the shooting guard said. “I’m not alone. … It’s just so much funner now. Everyone wants to be better.”
He added that the team’s motto is, “We before me.”
“That’s how it should be every time,” Crews said. “You’re not going to win anything if you play for yourself.”
The team’s efforts have paid off, with Hilliard earning 21 wins in the recent season. The Flashes went 3-21 when Crews played on varsity as an eighth-grader.
“I never doubt myself or my teammates,” Crews said. “They’ve improved so much. That was our first 21 season in a long time. That was a great season.”
West Nassau also had its best season in many years, going 15-12.
“Everybody knows their roles and that makes us succeed,” Coleman said.
Though the record was an im-provement on his freshman season, when the team went 10-16, he strives for a perfect season. His goal is to “win a state championship before I graduate.”
Can it happen?
“Definitely,” Coach Coleman said with confidence.
The younger Coleman also plays on the E1T1 Orlando-based travel team. He has played in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Dallas, Los Angeles and other large cities.
“It’s a sacrifice financially for us as a family, but pretty much any parent’s going to make that sacrifice,” Coach Coleman said. “I’m just going to push him to be the best at what he wants to be.”
The Warriors enjoy competing in front of large crowds and look forward to their games against the Flashes.
“It’s a rivalry between the schools,” said Coleman, who serves as point guard. “It was a rivalry for our school and for me as well.”
In the first battle, held at WNHS Dec. 8, the Warriors won 73-40. Crews technically wasn’t supposed to return to the court yet after an Achilles tendon injury, but played in the first half for the Flashes before joining the bench.
In the rematch at HMSHS Feb. 7, the crowd stayed entertained from start to finish. The battle was on and determination was fierce on both sides. Hilliard claimed the victory 50-44.
Though they are rivals, the co-MVPs see each other’s talent.
“He has good length and he can shoot the ball really well,” Coleman noted, explaining that Crews can take on much of the court.
Crews notes that Coleman plays with sharp skills and his style is similar to that of the current Georgetown University basketball team.
“He’s a great player. I give him all the respect in the world through everything West Nassau and Hilliard go through,” Crews said. “It’s great playing against him.”
Coleman has 10 offers from Division 1 colleges right now. He’s not voicing his top choices just yet, though.
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “It shows
some of my work is paying off.”
Crews, meanwhile, has verbally committed to the University of North Florida twice, and says he plans to stick with that decision.
“They came to games at West Nassau and they came to a couple of my games this year actually, and after (I uncommitted) you would think it would be a little weird, but not to them, and that’s why I picked them,” Crews said.
“Coach Myron told me there ain’t no better fit … He said those coaches are the right fit for me. … Coach Myron’s the same way. He’s just straight up with you. If you don’t like it, that’s your fault for playing basketball I guess,” Crews laughed, adding that it keeps him humble.
He and Coleman have earned several accolades for their talent.
Crews placed third in voting for the Florida Dairy Farmer’s Mr. Basketball Class 1A player of the year and the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches and Source Hoops named Crews to the Class 1A All-State First Team.
Coleman earned national recognition when USA Today selected him for the All-USA Florida second team. The Florida Association of Basketball Coaches and Source Hoops named Coleman to the Class 5A All-State Third Team.
The 2018-19 all-Nassau County boys basketball team includes:
• Dallan Coleman, sophomore point guard, West Nassau. The 2018-19 co-MVP averaged 22.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game with 4.1 assists and 1.3 steals. He averaged 40 percent from the 3-point range and scored a total of 611 points for West Nassau in 27 games this season. He was voted onto the All-USA Florida second team by USA Today. The Florida Association of Basketball Coaches and Source Hoops named Coleman to the Class 5A All-State Third Team. This is his second appearance on the all-county team.
• Jacob Crews, junior shooting guard, Hilliard. The 2018-19 co-MVP averaged 27 points and 7.5 rebounds per game with 1.4 assists and 1 steal. He averaged 39 percent from the 3-point range and scored a total of 675 points for the Flashes in 25 games this season. Crews has verbally committed to the University of North Florida. The Florida Association of Basketball Coaches and Source Hoops named Crews to the Class 1A All-State First Team. This is his third appearance on the all-county team.
• Nick Vanlennep, senior point guard, Fernandina Beach. The Pirate averaged 7.3 points, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals his final season. He shot 58 percent from the foul line.
• Shemar Melton, junior small forward, West Nassau. Melton averaged 11.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game for the Warriors in 2018-19. He also had 1.3 assists.
• London Kassab, senior point guard, Hilliard. Kassab averaged 14 points per game with 4.2 assists, 1.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals.
• Madison Gardner, senior guard, Yulee. He averaged 12 points and six rebounds for the Hornets this past season.
Honorable Mention: Christian Bailey, West Nassau; Ben Sharpe, Trey Rush, Tywuan Lee, Hilliard; Jason Green, Yulee; Jensen Peeples, Joey Harris and Knox Richardson, Fernandina Beach.