Player Spotlight: Ohio State G Aaron Craft
Ohio State’s Aaron Craft is a rarity in today’s age of college basketball. He puts defense first. One could argue that there is no player more important to his team’s success than Craft. The senior guard from Findlay, Ohio, only averages about 10 points per game, but his value goes well beyond the box score.
Craft is one of the best on-ball defenders to ever play in the Big Ten, and possibly the country. However, Craft wasn’t highly recruited out of high school. In fact, he was originally a football superstar in the state of Ohio. Craft played four years for his high school, and led Liberty Benton High School to a record of 58-5, while playing quarterback and safety. He could have easily played football at the Division 1 level if he chose to do so.
Craft has been a program-changing player for the traditionally great Ohio State Buckeyes. Craft has led his team in assists and steals every season since he stepped foot on campus. He also owns the Ohio State school record for steals and assists, with lots of basketball left this season. Since Craft became a starter his sophomore season, the Buckeyes have ranked in the top 10 in defensive efficiency in college basketball, and have been as high as number four.
Additionally Craft has a career assist/turnover ratio of about 2.2, so taking care of the basketball is at the top of his list. He doesn’t shy away from taking the big shots either. Most notably was his game against Iowa State in the NCAA Round of 32 last season. While playing alongside one of the nation’s top scorers in Deshaun Thomas, Craft hit the game-winning shot that helped Ohio State advance to the Sweet 16. Statistically he was one of the worst three point shooters on the floor and had missed a jump shot just 30 seconds before, but Craft’s desire to win took over and he hit one of the biggest shots of the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Playing alongside superstars like Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, David Lighty and Jon Diebler, Craft was never afraid to steal the spotlight.
He may have had a handful of talent to play alongside in his time at Ohio State, but Craft knows always knows the strengths of his teammates, as well as their weaknesses. He owns a career record of 120-23.
The matchup of Aaron Craft against Penn State’s high scoring backcourt should be a fun one to watch. As long as Craft is on the floor, Penn State is going to have to find creative ways to score the basketball.
Chad Carey is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Courtesy: (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)