By James O'Hare on March 23, 2014
Aaron Craft's tenure at Ohio State ended in an upset at the hands of the Dayton Flyers. Now, he and his pink cheeks will try to make it in the NBA. Though he didn't have the same college success as Tim Tebow, in many ways he is identical to the former Florida quarterback and will be no less polarizing at the next level.
Tebow's post-game speech after a 31-30 loss to Ole Miss is now infamous in Florida Gators football. There's even a plaque of it outside of the team's facility. For four years, Craft has been the same type of leader for Ohio State basketball. He doesn't have a plaque, but coach Thad Matta has stated he wants a statue of Craft erected outside of the Value City Arena.
Tebow had a knack for making clutch plays in big games. Craft is no different. He did everything in his power to beat Dayton, like hitting a ridiculous reverse layup to put his team up 59-58 with 15.5 seconds remaining. He made similar plays in last year's tourney, leading the Buckeyes all the way to the Elite 8.
This goes hand in hand with leadership. No one's trying harder than Tebow when he's on a football field. Craft is the same on a basketball court. He dives for loose balls, takes charges and is an absolute pest on defense. He never takes a possession off. Basically, he's a head coach's dream.
Commentators endlessly praised Tebow while he was at Florida, not just for his gritty play, but for how good of a person he is off the field. They did the same for Craft. For this reason, many people hate the point guard. They're sick and tired of hearing about how hard he plays, how good of a leader he is and how good his grades are. As a result, they actively root against him. Basically, if he's on your team, you love him. If not, you hate him.
Like Tebow, Craft has all the intangibles to be a phenomenal professional athlete. However, he lacks a crucial quality to play at the next level: talent. Tebow had a flawed throwing motion. Similarly, Craft isn't a great outside shooter and he's not a spectacular ball handler. His leadership qualities are unmatched and, love him hate him, he will be remembered as a premier college player, but he doesn't have the raw skill to succeed in the NBA.
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