Basketball

PC women’s basketball star Janai Crooms passes through Ohio, Michigan

Rhode Island native and former St. Andrew's star Janai Crooms in action for Providence College against UConn on Jan. 30.

PROVIDENCE — A saying taken from the title of Thomas Wolfe’s 1940 novel states, “You can’t go home anymore.”

To say that this adage does not apply to Janai Crooms would be an understatement.

Cranston’s junior guard, Crooms was heavily drafted before opting for Ohio State. She then transferred to Michigan State and then transferred again, this time to Providence College.

“Honestly, I wanted to get away from home and have a different experience outside of Rhode Island,” Crooms said. “I came home because I wanted to be close to my family and finish my college career in my hometown.”

It’s another way of saying that Crooms, who started playing basketball in fourth grade, wanted her family to watch her grow not only as a player but also as a person.

Crooms finished the Big East regular season not only as one of the best players in the team, but also in the conference. Heading into the conference tournament, Crooms leads the Friars (11-18, 6-14) in scoring at 13.7 points per game, rebounding at 7.3 per game, stealing with 39 and assisting with 97. She is second in blocked shots with 97 and is shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

When the final Big East stats were compiled, Crooms finished among the conference leaders in scoring, rebounding, assists, free throw percentage, steals, blocked shots, offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds. Providence, seeded No. 8, will open the tournament at 11 a.m. Friday against No. 9 Georgetown.

Providence's Janai Crooms in the hallway against UConn on Jan. 30.  Crooms leads the Friars in points, rebounds, steals and assists.

“I think we’ve been involved with Janai from the time we arrived on campus in 2016 and started following her to AAU prom and St. Andrew’s,” the Providence coach said, Jim Crowley. “We were in regular communication with her.

“The opportunity for her to play in the Big Ten was huge. We had a good relationship with her mother [Lisa]. When we found out she was going to be transferred, we were after her again. Last summer, COVID changed a lot of things. She has a good support system. We were delighted that the third time was a charm.

Good point.

Equally important is that Crooms is one of the few upper class members (Providence only has two seniors on the team) on a very young squad.