Gameday+ | Meet a Buckeye: Janai Crooms, women’s basketball

Ray Stein
Basketball brought Janai Crooms to Ohio State, but she misses being able to play other sports such as baseball, lacrosse and soccer. [Eric Albrecht/Dispatch]

Janai Crooms

Sport: Women’s basketball

Age: 20

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Cranston, R.I.

Major: Undecided

Question: I’m not going to lie, we love meeting people from different places in this space. How would you describe Rhode Island in 20 words or less?

Answer: Fun, small, artistic; known for beaches, seafood and Del’s Lemonade; Ocean State; no other state has clam chowder like RI.

Q: If you could correct one fault about Rhode Island, would it be the traffic, the weather or something else entirely?

A: The traffic, definitely. Especially in the morning, it’s ridiculous. Another thing is Dunkin Donuts. People go crazy for their coffee and are super impatient about it.

Q: Is this really a Rhode Island thing #1: People really don’t use their blinkers when changing lanes?

A: Yes, it’s a Rhode Island thing. People do that, and then when they see someone do the same thing, they get mad.

Q: How much of an adjustment have you made living in Ohio? I mean, it’s not Montana, but comparatively it’s wide open, right?

A: I wouldn’t say it’s a big adjustment. Living in Rhode Island, I’m used to the city and it being as cold.

Q: Let talk sports. Based on your Twitter feed, you have a deep affection for the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady. True or false?

A: Yes! Best quarterback and player to ever play football. He’s an amazing leader and I look up to him.

Q: Do you apply a similar level of devotion to other New England-area teams — Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, etc.?

A: Not really. I don’t really watch hockey and baseball as much as I do basketball and football. But I still support those teams.

Q: Besides basketball, did you play any other sports growing up?

A: Yes, I played baseball, lacrosse and soccer. I enjoyed them all and wish I could still be playing more than one sport.

Q: Again, based only on Twitter, it seems you may be a fan of basketball players (LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, James Harden) more than you are of teams. True or false?

A: Yes! LeBron James is my favorite basketball player. Kyrie, I love his skill set and what he brings to the table. His ability to handle the ball the way he does and other things he can do is insane. And James Harden is unbelievable. His ability to create the space he does is out of this world.

Q: What is the significance of the No. 3 on your jersey?

A: My cousin is Allen Iverson. I want to continue the legacy. He wore the number throughout his entire career and I want to do the same.

Q: Is this really a Rhode Island thing #2: Do people really eat “bakery pizza,” which doesn’t have cheese on top?

A: I’ve never heard of that. I mean, pizza is pizza.

Q: What’s your go-to meal when you really want to pamper yourself?

A: Salmon, rice, broccoli, mashed potatoes.

Q: I’ll assume you’re not finding fresh quahogs around here, but have you discovered any Columbus/Ohio/Midwest food that you’ve latched onto?

A: No, I haven’t. The majority of the things I eat I already knew about.

Q: Is this really a Rhode Island thing #3: Coffee milk, which essentially is like chocolate milk but with coffee syrup. Do people actually drink it?

A: Yes, and it’s amazing. Coffee milk is really popular in Rhode Island. I brought it to Columbus and my teammates love it.

Q: You also considered signing with Rutgers, Florida and Michigan State; what swung the needle to OSU?

A: OSU welcomed me and it felt like another home away from home. The academic support felt really strong and I thought it was the right place for me.

Q: Last year as a freshman, it was January before you cracked the starting lineup; did you find college ball a big adjustment?

A: I did at first. Going from high school to college, being the best player and then being one of the best players is a big adjustment. I had to work my butt off to prove that I can hang with the other players. It was a learning lesson and I’m glad I went through it. Not everything is going to be handed to you; you have to work to get what you want.

Q: How weird is it that the team has almost totally turned over from last year, and now you’re one of the older players?

A: You know, it feels weird but it’s also time to step up. Being only a sophomore but having to act mature is something big for me. I want to be a leader for this team and I think I can fill those shoes.

Q: Do you enjoy being in a leadership role?

A: Yes, I do. I feel I can take on those situations and handle adversity pretty well. I think I do a pretty good job of bringing the energy and keeping everyone together through tough times.

Q: This may or may not be a rhetorical question: How many pairs of shoes can a young woman own?

A: I don’t think there’s an answer for that. I know so many people who have a multitude of shoes. And me being sort of a sneaker head, I have more than 30 pairs of shoes.

Q: On a scale of 1-to-10, how important is it for the body and soul to get an occasional power nap?

A: I’d say a 6. I’m not a fan of naps.