Craft Headlines OSU Postseason Awards
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Aaron Craft might look like a little guy next to teammates like Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas, but he is quickly turning into the Big Man on Campus.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Ohio State’s second-year point guard headlined the school’s postseason awards Monday, as he was named the Big Ten Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year by the coaches.
“I am humbled by this award,” Craft said in a statement.
“It is certainly not an individual award. I play my best defense when my teammates are at their best. I know my teammates can rescue me if I get beat. It has been a blessing to achieve this accomplishment and share it with the rest of the guys on our team.”
The coaches also selected Craft as a unanimous member of the 2012 Big Ten All-Defensive Team, but he wasn’t the only member of the 2012 co-Big Ten Champion and No. 7-ranked Ohio State men's basketball team that was recognized Monday.
As he was a year ago, Sullinger was named 2012 First Team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media, while William Buford and Deshaun Thomas received Second Team All-Big Ten honors.
The league’s Player of the Year award went to Michigan State’s Draymond Green, but that didn’t temper Matta’s excitement.
“I’m extremely proud of the recognition our student-athletes earned this year,” OSU head coach Thad Matta said.
“Our league proved to be the best in the country time-and-time again. Earning a spot on any of the Top 3 All-Big Ten teams is a tremendous accomplishment. William, Jared, Deshaun and Aaron represented our team throughout the year and were rewarded with a third-consecutive conference title.”
Buford was selected to both the Big Ten coaches and conference media’s second team All-Big Ten squad, while Thomas was selected to the second team by the coaches. He was named to the third team by the media, along with Craft, who is currently No. 12 nationally in steals with 2.4 a game—most in the Big Ten this season.
Playing defense is obviously nothing new for the Findlay native and former high school quarterback.
“I think it was at a young age playing with my older brother,” Craft said during the Big Ten Network’s All-Conference Selection Show.
“I couldn’t score on those guys because they were a lot bigger, but I could frustrate them a lot on defense. I got in a couple fights with my brother and his friends.”
He hasn’t gotten in any fights during his time at Ohio State, but the sophomore has frustrated more than his fair share of players in the Big Ten, both last season and this one.
“He takes pride in playing defense,” Big Ten Network analyst, and former Buckeye, Jimmy Jackson said.
“A lot of people talk about it, but they don’t really go out and express that. He gets in position to make a play, not giving up on a play, quick hands, feet in position.”
Craft has 75 thefts this season, second most all-time in a season at Ohio State. He is also the third Buckeye to earn B1G defensive player of the year honors, joining big men Ken Johnson (2000, 2001) and Greg Oden (2007).
Many would argue David Lighty also deserved to win the award last season, but it went to Big Ten Player of the Year JaJuan Johnson instead.
Craft also won the Big Ten’s Sportsmanship Award for his University, while Sullinger became the first Buckeye to earn back-to-back First Team All-Big Ten honors since Evan Turner (2009-10). The first Buckeye to accomplish that was Tony Campbell in 1983-84.
The Buckeyes earned a share of the regular season Big Ten Championship with their 72-70 win at Michigan State Sunday. They will be the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, playing approximately 9 p.m. ET Friday against the winner of No. 6 Purdue and No. 11 Nebraska.
Complete List of Honorees
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