By Matt McCoy
He's experienced just about everything in his four years at Ohio State. With the Buckeyes now in the NCAA tournament, every time Aaron Craft takes the floor, he knows it could be his last game.
Ohio State faces Dayton Thursday at 12:15 P.M. and Craft hopes it's the start of one last NCAA tournament run.
"The worst thing we can do is try to rely and fall back on 'we've had some experience here, we'll be OK,'" Craft said referring to Ohio State's current NCAA high streak of four consecutive Sweet 16 appearances. "That's not the case. It's about coming out and making the most of the opportunity we have this year and trying to make it last as long as possible."
In an ironic twist of fate, in order for Craft to extend his career beyond round one, he'll have to spend time guarding a former teammate. Dayton guard Jordan Sibert played with Craft on the same AAU team in high school and for the first two years at Ohio State. Following the Buckeyes Final Four run in 2012, Sibert transferred to Dayton and is the Flyers leading scorer.
"I've talked to him every now and again," Craft said of Sibert. "We're excited. Obviously this is the time of year you want to play for. We're in the tournament and we have a great game coming up."
Craft has become the face of Buckeye Basketball. Even the casual college hoops fan knows Craft. Buckeye fans love him but most opposing fans hate him. But his relentless defense and will to win on the court coupled with his excellence in the classroom have earned the respect of players and coaches everywhere.
"You've got to love Craft...I mean I do," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said following Ohio State's 69-67 win over the Spartans in Craft's final home game March 9th. "It was an honor to coach against him for four years. He represents everything that I think is right."
Well said Coach Izzo. Win or lose, enjoy watching Craft in this, his final NCAA tournament. Student athletes like him are few and far between.
CBS put together a feature on Craft and his relationship with his younger sister Cait, a guard on the Buckeye women's team. They've posted it in preparation for the NCAA tournament. It's well done. You can check it out here.