With the main cogs in the AAU machine known as All-Ohio Red already in the fold for 2010, Thad Matta's recent score in the form of the squad's under the radar point guard could prove to be a crucial get for the program.
Aaron Craft, the recent decommit previously headed to Tennessee, opted to stay closer to home giving the Buckeyes a 6'2" point guard that could hopefully stabilize a position in flux since the departure of Conley Jr. (and to a lesser extent with Butler trying to play PG while being the leading scorer) while also giving Matta a recruit who will play four years of college ball. With other '10 recruits Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas not likely to give Matta a full career, Craft could evolve into the next Lighty-type in his later years giving the program a selfless and experienced leader. One thing seems certain, he'll be the starter as a freshman once the end of the 2009-10 season provides cornea relief in the form of Hill and Simmons running out of eligibility.
Admittedly, I don't travel the AAU circuit so I'm relegated to reading opinions and watching tubes plus it's never guaranteed how high school success will translate to big time hoops (see Diebler's painfully slow evolution) but there are many reasons to be high on adding Craft.
For one, you have to love the fact Matta is bringing in guys who will have played one shitload of games together. It obviously fueled the '07 Final Four run with Conley, Oden, Cook and Titus creating a formidable nucleus. Purdue has also seen the benefits from that blueprint. Not only should it create a good day one chemistry but Craft is already keenly aware of the strengths and weaknesses of Sullinger and Sibert and there's still a chance Matta adds 6'10" fellow All-Ohio Red big man Adreian Payne to the mix. Payne is said to be considering OSU, Sparty and Kentucky, among others.
Secondly, even though Craft didn't vault up the recruiting rankings until Bruce Pearl gave him an offer, the consistent assessment of his game speaks of an ability to hit the open jumper, intense commitment at the defensive end and overall heady play earning him "glue guy" status. Craft is currently the 18th ranked PG in the 2010 class (Rivals) and he's also a stud quarterback who attends class to the tune of a 4.0 and 32 ACT.
In other hoops news, David Lighty met with the media yesterday and proclaimed himself 100% healthy since resuming full-go hoops activities in early April. As you'd expect, he sounds excited for the season to arrive, not only because of missing most of last season with the injury but also because the team comes back virtually intact for the first time in his OSU career:
“Ever since my freshman year, it’s been a new team every year. This is my first time with pretty much the whole team coming back. I am just looking forward to the season and seeing how things come about when we start playing and we start putting things together. Hopefully, we can make it farther than we did this past year...It’s five months to the first game, I’m just ready to get back on the court in live action. That’s what I’m getting ready for.”
So am I.