Appreciate the Aaron Craft Experience While You Can

By Michael Citro on December 15, 2013 at 10:30a
33 Comments
Appreciate the Aaron Craft Experiencenow, because it will be gone before you know it.

Not to depress you or anything, but we’re now just 21 scheduled games and an as-yet undetermined number of postseason appearances away from the end of the Aaron Craft era.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for three years, you know by now how special Craft’s career at Ohio State has been. In a culture that pours accolades upon the guys who score the most points, it might be easy to overlook No. 4’s incredible career. Thad Matta knows a lot about basketball and he’ll tell you how important Craft has been, if only he could think of what to say.

“It’s hard to put into words what Aaron has meant to this program and to this university,” said Matta after last night’s 79-62 dismantling of North Dakota State — a game during which his point guard became the school’s all-time assist leader, with 581. With his seven helpers against the Bison, Craft passed (see what I did there?) Jamar Butler’s career total of 579. Craft had already snagged the program’s career record for steals during his junior year.

To put it in more simple terms, no player in the 121-year history of Ohio State basketball has taken the ball away from the opposition or set his teammates up to score more than Aaron Craft. Those are insanely important things to do in the game of basketball, and every bit as vital to team success as scoring points. The two school records are going to be more than broken by the time Craft leaves — they’ll be crushed.

We’ve talked about this before, but are you appreciating it?

Craft plays hoops with zero regard for his body and with more passion than most people approach anything in their lives. He attacks the game with gusto, often getting more excited about little things like creating a five-second call than hitting a three-pointer, although that can get pretty exciting too.

What we’ve all witnessed these last three years (and some change) is a guy who has turned defense into an art form. It’s more than steals or deflected passes. He draws five-second calls and charges. His mere close proximity to an offensive player who receives a pass often creates a traveling call on the startled opponent who expected only oxygen where Craft’s body turned up. That’s not normal.

Aaron Craft's CAREER HONORS
2013-14 CBSSports.com Preseason All-American,
2nd Team
2013-14 Sporting News Preseason All-American,
3rd Team
2013 Big Ten Tournament MOP
2013 Big Ten All-Tournament Team
2013 USBWA All-District V Team
2013 First Team All-Big Ten, media
2013 Second Team All-Big Ten, coaches
2013 Big Ten All-Defensive Team, coaches
2013 Capital One Academic All-America of the Year/
First Team Academic All-American
2012-13 Bob Cousy Award Semifinalist
2013 Big Ten Player of the Week (March 11)
Hall of Fame Tipoff All-Tournament Team
2012-13 Wooden Award Preseason Top 50
2012-13 Naismith Award Preseason Top 50
2012 NCAA Elite 89 Award-Highest GPA in Final Four
2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
2012 Capital One First Team Academic All-American
2012 Third Team All-Big Ten (media)
2012 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (coaches)
2012 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award
2012 Bob Cousy Award Semifinalist
2011 Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year
2011 Big Ten All-Freshman Team (coaches/media)
2011 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (media)
2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Week (Jan. 17)

Are you appreciating it?

Craft is also the only player in the history of Ohio State basketball to amass more than 1,000 career points, 500 career assists and 250 steals. Along with leading all Buckeyes who ever played in total thefts, Craft is also tied with Northwestern’s Pat Baldwin for fifth in conference history.

Something else that isn’t normal is the amount of fun it is to watch Craft play. There have been many great basketball players at Ohio State over the years — Kelvin Ransey, Herb Williams, Dennis Hopson, Jay Burson, Jim Jackson, Evan Turner, Jared Sullinger and many others have worn the scarlet and gray. But how many of those guys were more fun to watch than the rosy-cheeked assassin?

About the only thing people could knock about Craft’s game over the years has been his shooting. But he has shown the ability to score when needed. In just about every big game last season, Craft was the go-to guy on offense down the stretch of tight games, despite the presence of the prolific Deshaun Thomas. Craft can get to the rim when he wants to, and if he’s surrounded, he’ll just find whoever was left open.

Only 44 men have scored more points in a Buckeye basketball uniform than Craft, and he’ll likely pass Carter Scott and maybe Scoonie Penn on Wednesday against Delaware.

Are you appreciating it?

Being very good at basketball is only one reason to enjoy watching a player. It’s even more fun to follow guys who are good people. Craft comes across as a good guy. He’s humble in post-game interviews. His obvious commitment to his studies is endearing. And his prowess with a Rubik’s Cube has become legendary.

When you add all of his off-the-court qualities with his accomplishments on the hardwood, the sum is a unique elite athlete with the looks and charm of a small town paperboy and the lethality of a ninja.

If he’s extremely fortunate and his teammates play brilliantly this season, there will be 30 more games of the Aaron Craft experience. It’s just three and a half months until the expiration date of the career of one of the best, brightest, smartest and most likeable ballers to ever ball at THE Ohio State University.

The question is, are you appreciating it?
 

33 Comments

Comments

Shayla39's picture

Very lucky to have this kid!  An athlete and a scholar.

osu07asu10's picture

We’ve talked about this before, but are you appreciating it?

YES!

Are you appreciating it?

I AM!

Are you appreciating it?

INDEED!...

The question is, are you appreciating it?

I LOVE AARON CRAFT!!!!
 
 

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

IGotAWoody's picture

WELL played, OSU07!! Those were MY exact same responses!

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

skid21's picture

Yes sir I'M APPRECIATING IT! And have been for years. I'll thank goodness every second of every remaining game that Bruce Pearl decided to host a barbecue. I also appreciate the hate Tennessee fans, among others, have for Craft for doing the right thing.

allbucksallthetime's picture

In a day and age where 'image is everything', Aaron Craft has taken blue-collar to a level unseen at OSU or most anywhere in college basketball.  Aaron Craft is the poster boy for all things great about college athletics.  His impact on the court, and beyond, are difficult to measure but are never unappreciated by this Buckeye fan.
Thank God Aaron Craft is on our side.  Go Bucks!

gravey's picture

Just another reason to be proud to be a Buckeye.  Matta's had a string of players that have made me feel that way (Oden, Conley, Titus, Sully), but Babyfaced Finster, aka the rosy cheeked assassin may be at the top of my list.  THANK YOU AARON CRAFT...and send my thanks to your parents as well.

thatlillefty's picture

dude, great point. we've had a ton of quality guys.

DenBuck's picture

Perfect student athlete. We are going to miss him and Smith A LOT next year. Aaron is the kind of kid that will be a success no matter what he does. A true winner. Love him. 

Buckeye For Life

Seattle Linga's picture

How awesome would it have been to have AC playing with next years crops of STUDS

RufusVonDufus's picture

The worst criminal conspiracy in the B1G last year was the way they managed to give the Defensive Player of the Year award to anyone other than Craft.     Talk about blatant theft!

Bucksnnuts

Oakland Buckeye's picture

I just went to my bio page & changed my alltime favorite buckeye baller to Craft from Diebler... prolly should have done that 2 years ago!

painterlad's picture

It's often hard to appreciate greatness while you are experiencing it. Sometimes greatness can only truly be understood after the event is over and time allows for the person/thing to be placed in its rightful place. We can look at Craft now and say "great" but ten years from now we will say "one of the greatest ever." In other words, Lincoln might not have written such a monumental address if he had done it immediately following the battle of Gettysburg; four months of contemplation allowed for the battle to be placed in its proper perspective.

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

FLAMikey's picture

Any top tier team is going to have guys who leave early, some after just one season. Having a player like Craft who has elite ability, brings the goods for four years and represents his university in exemplary fashion cannot be appreciated too much.

nfischer's picture

I hope when all is said and done we will see his craftiness on the side of the court, continuing his legacy as a Buckeye at Matta's side.

cinserious's picture

Now that's a heady accomplishment! All time assists and all time steals. Congratulations Aaron. He is the lead dog in a long, distinguished line of OSU point guards. With his intelligence, hustle, defense, and shooting ability, he's got NBA lottery pick written all over him.

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

Buckeye5000's picture

As much as we all appreciate and love Arron....NBA lottery pick?....uh, no.

Go Bucks!

cinserious's picture

I don't know if John Stockton, Jason Kidd, or Steve Nash were lottery picks but Aaron Craft is on the same level as they were in college and looks to have as bright an NBA future as those three. THAT is 'lottery pick' worthy!

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

Buckeye5000's picture

I wasn't saying that Arron won't be a good or even great pro (I would love to see it so I could follow him for many years to come) but his skill set is not what NBA teams are looking for in the lottery. They look for exceptional athleticism and potential to one day be an all-time great. That is why the players you named above (except maybe Kidd who might have been a lottery pick but at the time he was seen as the best point guard to come out in at least a generation) were not lottery picks. But wouldn't it be great to see Arron have a career like Stockton's....except with an NBA championship. 

Go Bucks!

IGotAWoody's picture

When Craft saw thru the obvious swarminess of Bruce Pearl, and chose the GOOD GUYS instead, we knew right away that this kid was smart. I think that's his most powerful weapon, he's one of the smartest athletes, let alone bball players, to ever play at OSU. He'll continue to be someone I'll enjoy following LONG after his bball days here are done.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

Bucknut-in-the-South's picture

If you will allow me, I would like to compare Mr. Craft to another great in the annals of Ohio State basketball, one who is, in my view, the only player to compare favorably to the Ninja Heartbreaker. I was seven years old the first time I heard Jimmy Crum yell the word "Hondo," and I had no clue what he was talking about. I soon came to understand that he was re-naming a skinny young kid from Martin's Ferry, Ohio, to wit: one John Havlicek. Like the Crafty One, Hondo was all-out, all the time. No plays off, no loafing up and down the court. He was taller, so he not only harassed guards to the point of turning in their high-top chucks, but also forwards and occasionally a center or two. He, too, was a great football player, like Aaron, and could have played in the NFL had he chosen to. He was, like 95% of Fred Taylor's players, an excellent student, a great teammate, and a model of decorum off the court. Players like him, and like #Swoon only come along once in a generation. It is a privilege for me to have seen two such players in my lifetime. One day, when all of you youngsters are grey and creaky in the joints as I am now, you will look back fondly on the days when Aaron Craft stole the hearts of his enemies and his admirers alike. Savor every moment of the remarkable career of this outstanding young man. I know I am.

Buckeye5000's picture

Wow, Buck-Nut-in-The-South you brought back some great memories of one of my all-time favorite players. Unfortunately I never got to see "Hondo" play for the Bucks, unless you want to count as an infant. But my Dad was a huge Buckeye and Havlicek fan. My mother and father were both born and raised in Martins Ferry and I lived there for a couple of years in my youth while my Dad was in Vietnam. (I also lived in Middletown, Lucas's hometown for a few years after Dad retired) Dad continued to follow "Hondo" after he went to the Boston Celtics and that is why if you look at my Bio you will see that the Celts are my favorite NBA team. I remember watching many Celtics games with my father growing up and those are some of my favorite memories of my Dad. I remember that when Havlicek retired from the NBA he was the all-time leading scorer in NBA history despite the fact he spent quite a few of his early years in the NBA as the originator of "the sixth man". I have read everything I could get my hands on and watched everything I could watch when it comes to "Hondo". He was truly a class act, one heck of a player and Arron does remind me a lot of him. Thanks for bringing back some great memories of "Hondo" and my late Father.  

Go Bucks!

bucksfan92's picture

I have appreciated him since he got here, although he has infuriated me at times with his FT brain cramps and some lousy offensive games, but overall these are blips on the continuum.  I still remember his very first game, the exhibition game his freshman year, when he was diving for loose balls and giving extra effort in a game OSU was winning by 40.  My comment then was "wow B1G fans are gonna hate this guy for 4 years"  I had no idea the rest of the country would too, but that is a great thing about following the Buckeyes - our players, coaches, and fans are hated all over the country because we are most likely handing you an L, and bringing lots of fans to watch - even in your house.
And I think next year he will pass the torch to Mark Loving - that kid looks spectacular, and if he is as smart as he seems to be, he is certainly soaking up the Aaron Craft experience, just like Aaron did with Jon Deibler before him.  The continuity of high quality players Matta is bringing to OSU is a wonderful thing to experience.

BucksFan2000's picture

Great post.  Yes, it is pure joy to watch him play.  Has it infected the whole team?  Anyone notice that it's a joy to watch the entire team right now?  They've had great teams the entire Matta era - and some were probably better - but this squad is getting after it right now.  The defense is crazy
 

Buckeye5000's picture

Something else people probably don't think about and don't really appreciate about Craft is the effect he has on players in practice, the community, and in their decision making off the court. You can bet that Arron's example of hustle in practice, good work in the community, and "keeping his nose clean" off the court has had a positive effect on how the other players go about their "business".
Like someone else already mentioned, I would also love to see Arron come back and sit next to Coach Matta as an asst. after his playing days are over....but I hope that is at least 15yrs. down the road.   

Go Bucks!

Doc's picture

Where has the time gone. It is hard to believe in a very short time Aaron will have moved on. Thank you Aaron for being you, and thank you for being a Buckeye. 

"Say my name."

Buckeye5000's picture

Amen DOC!
There I said your name. Happy DOC? Wait I said your name twice DOC....no! now that's 3 times.....;)

Go Bucks!

AngryWoody's picture

2013-14 CBSSports.com Preseason All-American,
2nd Team
2013-14 Sporting News Preseason All-American,
3rd Team
2013 Big Ten Tournament MOP
2013 Big Ten All-Tournament Team
2013 USBWA All-District V Team
2013 First Team All-Big Ten, media
2013 Second Team All-Big Ten, coaches
2013 Big Ten All-Defensive Team, coaches
2013 Capital One Academic All-America of the Year/
First Team Academic All-American
2012-13 Bob Cousy Award Semifinalist
2013 Big Ten Player of the Week (March 11)
Hall of Fame Tipoff All-Tournament Team
2012-13 Wooden Award Preseason Top 50
2012-13 Naismith Award Preseason Top 50
2012 NCAA Elite 89 Award-Highest GPA in Final Four
2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
2012 Capital One First Team Academic All-American
2012 Third Team All-Big Ten (media)
2012 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (coaches)
2012 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award
2012 Bob Cousy Award Semifinalist
2011 Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year
2011 Big Ten All-Freshman Team (coaches/media)
2011 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (media)
2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Week (Jan. 17)

Ummm...there's something missing from this list....You forgot TWO time winner of Cosmo's "Hottest Guy of March Madness"!

Our Honor Defend!

Buckeye5000's picture

I'm not sure who Cosmo is but....I sure hope it's a chic.

Go Bucks!

Seattle Linga's picture

Thank you for mentioning that...Kinda curious myself

cinserious's picture

Probably referring to 'Cosmopolitan' magazine. You know, one of those mags you ALWAYS see at the grocery store checkout.

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

AngryWoody's picture

Yeah, it's teen/women's magazine you always see in the checkout lane.

Our Honor Defend!

Craft to the Rafters's picture

I've been expecting big things from day one - ^^ - and love how his legendary career has unfolded.  Next accomplishment to check off- leading this group to a NC in his last game in his soon-to-be-retired #4.