Viewed as the potential weakest link when the season began for Ohio State, the position proved to be in capable hands as freshman Aaron Craft emerged as the de facto starter. Although William Buford began each game at the position, Craft was the first substitute into the lineup and was named the league's sixth player of the year for his efforts.
Although Craft capably held down the position, the Buckeyes will be bolstered this fall by the addition of Shannon Scott, a McDonald's All-American from Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton. Head coach David Boyd described Scott as a true point guard with the potential to move Craft off the ball in certain situations next season.
"I thought that Craft had a great year, but he never looked to me to be completely comfortable in that point guard role," Boyd told BuckeyeSports.com. "It looked to me like he was capable of scoring, so I foresee him playing the off guard and Shannon playing point but literally having two great ball handlers, two great defenders, two outstanding drivers playing at the same time."
Through the first 15 games of the season, Craft was averaging 5.1 points and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of plus-2.4. In the final 22 contests, the freshman increased his scoring average to 8.1 points per game and his assist-to-turnover ratio dipped slightly to plus-2.1.
After going scoreless in two of his first 15 games, Craft had just one more such performance. In a first-round NCAA Tournament blowout against Texas-San Antonio, Craft did not score in 24 minutes of action as the Buckeyes cruised to a 75-46 victory. Craft had five or more turnovers four times this season and three of those contests came in the final 22 games of the season.
Craft's early-season success had Boyd believing that the freshman was laying permanent claim to the position.
"It just seemed to me that Craft would be a little bit more comfortable maybe not having to have the ball quite as much as he did," he said. "Not that he wasn't a great ball handler, just that I felt like he could do so many more things whereas Shannon seems really comfortable in that role."
As a junior, Scott helped lead his team to a state championship while averaging 14 points, seven assists and 2.5 steals per contest. The team again reached the finals last season but fell short of the title, finishing 29-3 overall. Scott averaged 13.0 points, 7.0 assists and 2.5 steals per contest along the way.
Former Buckeye Evan Turner, who was the point guard two seasons ago, compared Scott to Mike Conley, who rewrote the freshman record book at OSU before leaving early for the NBA.
"(He's a) legit player, (a) Mike Conley-type in regards to thinking the game," Turner posted on his Twitter page.
Scott will begin his OSU career more highly ranked than Craft. The incoming freshman is rated the No. 6 point guard in his class while Craft – a former quarterback – checked in at No. 19 in his class. Partially as a result, Craft was widely viewed as a placeholder for a season until Scott arrived.
Head coach Thad Matta said those thoughts changed early in practice.
"Watching him on a daily basis, not just one day here and there, it was every day," he said. "What you see on the floor is exactly what he is like in practice. At that particular time I said this young man has a chance to be a really, really good basketball player."
When Scott signed with the Buckeyes on Nov. 10, Matta stressed his ability to handle the ball.
"He is a true, pure point guard," the coach said. "He comes from a great basketball pedigree and I love the fact he's a guy that has already won a state championship."
Scott said he watched as many OSU games as he could this season and said he was impressed with what Craft brought to the table. The two were able to play against each other during Scott's official visit last September and the incoming freshman said he is looking forward to the chance to learn from Craft.
"I knew he was going to have a big year," Scott said. "I know he's a great player and he does what he does very well. I know he'll be able to make me a better player and he'll make sure that I get better. He's going to help my game a lot."
Although Boyd, Matta and Scott have all classified the 6-2, 165-pound incoming freshman as a pure point guard, the player in question said he will play wherever the coaches feel he best fits. Scott said he has been working on his shooting in case the coaches do plan to move him off the ball.
"As of right now (the OSU coaches) told me they want me just to come in and do what I do best and be the player they recruited and not try to be anyone else," he said. "I'm just going to come in there and try to do what I do and see what happens from there.
"(Aaron and I) haven't really talked about it yet. I know Coach Matta will do what is best for both of us and put us in a situation where we both can succeed."