This month, Aaron Craft has helped lead the Santa Cruz Warriors to a 9-1 record, all the while averaging elevated numbers of 12.6 points, 6.7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2.1 steals. His field goal percentages have been rather steady at 49% overall, 38% from deep, and 90% from the charity stripe. Through this same stretch, the point guard logged a triple-double and also scored a season-high 25 points in one of the team's aforementioned victories.
Perhaps there's (March) Madness in the air, even all the way out in Santa Cruz. Needless to say, Craft must be feeling nostalgic with the NCAA tournament going on, as evidenced in his recent play.
Speaking with RidiculousUpside.com, the point guard reflected on his time at Ohio State. "I loved it. Ohio State was a great place to be and I appreciated the opportunity Coach [Thad Matta] gave me to represent the school," he said. "We went on a pretty good run during my time there."
His collegiate career was punctuated by an NABC Defensive Player of the Year award just last year. Craft was the Big Ten Tournament M.V.P. in 2013, and earned First All-Defensive Team honors in the Big Ten during each of his four years. The list of accomplishments goes on Craft, who was undoubtedly looked at as a leader while at Ohio State.
The experience was a dream come true for a hometown kid like him.
"It was awesome. I was still very close to home and was able to see my family. Being able to play in front of them live was a great experience," Craft added. "Growing up in Ohio, that's one of the things you think about and want to do when you get older."
Despite such success, Craft went undrafted and has since been left to strut his stuff and prove himself all over again in the NBA D-League. But while the young gun continues to work hard at the minor league level, he still has time to keep up with his alma-matter. In the same respect, he's been impressed by D'Angelo Russell, not only one of Coach Matta's more recent pupils, but also a likely top-five pick in this year's NBA Draft.
"Russell is a game-changer. He's stepped up when they needed him to and shined on the biggest stage. He had a great first game in the NCAA tournament," Craft said before Ohio State was eventually eliminated on Saturday. "It's great to see Coach bring a guy like that in and have him be one of the best players in the country."
Meanwhile, Craft continues to make his own respective mark, all the while helping Santa Cruz clinch a playoff birth just last week. He's enjoying himself, and the transition has clearly been kind to him, especially as of late. Ever the efficient floor-general and quite an orchestrator, the underrated Craft is encouraged to do more of the same on this level.
"I feel pretty good. The biggest transition was in Summer League, but now we've been with the same guys for so long. After you go through training camp and play a few games, you get a real good feel for it," he said. "My role is pretty similar. There have been some adjustments with the shortened shot-clock and increased spacing, but I feel comfortable with our style of play."