Hall of fame honor still sinking in for Ohio State's Aaron Craft

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch

It didn’t matter who was on the other end of the line. It could’ve been from Columbus, Saskatchewan or any point in between and the person calling was headed for Aaron Craft’s voicemail.

The former Ohio State basketball player is a busy man these days. Now back at the university and attending medical school, Craft was going through some training to prepare for his next rotation when a number he didn’t recognize lit up his phone at a time he couldn’t answer. When it came time to grab lunch, Craft listened to the message from a member of Ohio State’s Varsity O Alumni Society.

Craft, a four-year star for the Buckeyes from 2010-14, had been selected as one of 15 new inductees into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame. For two reasons, the honor is still sinking in for Craft nearly a month later.

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“One, I don’t feel old enough,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’ve paid enough dues in that regard. Two, just thinking about the other players I got to play with that are a little older than me that may not be in already, I just feel like there are guys that are worthy of the honor that I played with or are around my age that deserved it before I did.”

Aaron Craft is Ohio State’s all-time leader in assists (694) and steals (337).

While he’s the first men’s basketball player to be inducted since Mike Conley in 2017, Craft is now the first member of the program to start his career after 2008 to be honored. Ohio State’s all-time leader in assists (694) and steals (337), Craft led the Buckeyes in both categories in all four seasons with the program while also finishing with 1,314 points. He’s the NCAA’s all-time leader in steals, the 30th most prolific scorer in Ohio State history and was a four-time Big Ten all-defensive team member.

It’s a resume that’s plenty deserving, even without considering all the floor burns that went uncounted or the vitriol his style of play engendered in Ohio State’s opponents. That’s just still a hard reality for Craft to wrap his head around.

“I remember being in school and other people getting inducted into it and thinking, ‘Man, that is super cool’ but not really ever connecting it to me,” he said. “Just thinking about the other people that are already in and being part of that group, flat-out the greatest that Ohio State has in so many different areas, it still feels weird to be in that echelon. It is a cool, humbling thing of the body of work that we were able to do when I was in school to just be a part with all these other guys.”

Aaron Craft is Ohio State’s all-time leader in assists (694) and steals (337).

Craft credited a litany of former teammates for helping him get to this point, including Eddie Days, Jon Diebler, Amir Williams, Nikola Kecman and nearly a dozen others in addition to coach Thad Matta and assistant Jeff Boals, now the head coach at Ohio University.

Aaron Craft:Ex-Ohio State basketball star Aaron Craft nears end of playing days

“Boals recruited me and believed in me at an early age,” Craft said. “We still talk to this day. Love coach Boals. Coach Matta set up an atmosphere and a culture at Ohio State that at the time I thought was normal, but now that I’m out and I’ve talked to other people, it was not.”

All 15 members will be inducted during a Sept. 9 dinner at the Covelli Center and introduced at Ohio Stadium the next day.

“To be honest, the biggest name in our class is (four-time national champion wrestler) Logan Stieber, what he was able to accomplish and do,” Craft said. “Him and the guy that played football and basketball back in the day (Charles W. Bolen, 1915-18). Comparing myself to them feels odd, but it is super cool.”

After retiring from the professional game in 2020, Craft is preparing for his third-year clinical rotations while trying to narrow down what specific avenue of medicine he wants to pursue. For two weeks, it’s inpatient pediatric cardiology. For another two, it’s pediatric infectious disease.

It’s a chance to sample a little bit of everything within the realm of family medicine. It’s also helped underline just how much his playing career still resonates with Ohio State fans, even if his face is partially obscured by a mask.

“I have a name tag so if someone notices it, I’ve had multiple people thank me in a doctor’s room,” he said. “That’s been crazy. That’s been super humbling and just really cool to be a part of.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy

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