Aaron Craft is nearly the perfect college basketball point guard – a tremendous defensive player, a pass-first leader, and extremely unselfish. He’d be the perfect college point guard if he shot the ball better (50 percent from the field last year for the Buckeyes, with Jared Sullinger inside; 41 percent this year).
Craft is a joy to watch – I had him as the 6th best player in college basketball in the offseason, and if I re-did the list this week, he’d still make the Top 20. Craft is the second best point guard in the Big Ten behind Trey Burke … and Burke could win the National Player of the Year. Burke, if you care, is 7-of-25 shooting head-to-head against Craft this season, with nine assists and 11 turnovers in two games.
So why does Graham Couch, a columnist in Big Ten country, hate Aaron Craft so much? He wrote this in blog post on Feb. 25th:
I also believe Craft receives recognition beyond his abilities for reasons most are afraid to say — he’s a rosey-cheeked white guy. If he’s not, if he looks like Appling, I don’t think he’d be preseason All-Big Ten or featured in Sports Illustrated. That’s not his fault. But it’s the fault of writers who don’t necessarily understand the game or what he brings to it, but fall in love with his reputation and look.
Naturally, Craft played another terrific game Tuesday in a huge upset of Indiana on the road (15 points, four steals). Couch was besieged with comments from Buckeye fans … but refused to back down from his original premise:
He still receives more hype than he would if he were black and that has been the case throughout his college career. So many around the sport — mostly those not wearing scarlet and gray briefs this morning — agree with me on this.
… I simply disapprove the how the media has over-publicized him.
Craft may play his way onto the Big Ten’s first team. But it shouldn’t be in front of DeShaun Thomas, Trey Burke, Cody Zeller or Victor Oladipo.
And, if he takes the final spot, ahead of Tim Hardaway Jr., D.J. Richardson, Gary Harris, Andre Hollins, Adreian Payne or Trevor Mbakwe, let’s make sure we first imagine how we’d perceived each of those guys if they, too, were white.
Huh? Why don’t we begin here: Who is a “black” comparison to Aaron Craft? Mateen Cleaves, maybe? Actually, why the hell do we even need to find the “Black Aaron Craft?” This is all so silly.
I love Payne and he’s a great athlete with terrific upside. Mbakwe is a monster inside. Harris is a deadly shooter. Hardaway is probably a 1st round draft pick. But if I’m starting a college basketball team, none of those guys are taken ahead of Craft. It’s not even close, really. The debate isn’t talent or future potential. It’s about their worth (subjective!) in college basketball, and I’d argue the only guys in the Big Ten more valuable than Craft this year are Burke and Oladipo.