Buckeyes Could Use Multiple Point Guards

The Ohio State basketball team could employ multiple looks this season and when the team goes small the Buckeyes could get two point guards on the court at the same time. If Shannon Scott progresses the way he's expected, Thad Matta could throw him on the court as a freshman with Aaron Craft.

Perhaps it was just a coincidence that the descriptions of freshman point guard Shannon Scott provided by head coach Thad Matta and assistant coach Jeff Boals were nearly identical to the ones given about Aaron Craft a year ago.

But if the trend of similarities continues, it's likely that Scott could have an instant impact at point guard the way Craft did in his freshman season.

"Shannon is going to be a very, very good player and he has done a tremendous job with his body," Matta said. "Just seeing his game out there, he has shot the ball a lot better than we saw him shoot it last year. He is a winner and wants to do what is right for the team."

Though Scott wasn't made available to reporters at Ohio State's Media/Photo Day on Oct. 13 – freshmen under Matta have typically been sequestered away from media members until after the team's first exhibition game – there's no question Scott would like to do what's right for the team by getting on the floor early in his freshman season.

And he could do so with Craft alongside him on the floor, as Matta has complete confidence the sophomore guard could provide the team with a scoring spark from the shooting guard position while Scott runs the point.

"Some of the best teams I've had, we've had two point guards on the floor," Matta said. "To me, you've got another handler, another distributor, and if they can put the ball in the basket, that helps them even more."

The most memorable team Matta had that employed a dual-point guard system was the 2007 team where the Buckeyes had schemes with both Mike Conley Jr. and Jamar Butler on the floor at the same time.

That team, which also included standout center Greg Oden, advanced to the NCAA Tournament championship game before eventually falling to Florida.

With a leaner Sullinger more adept at running the floor, the Buckeyes could engage in a quicker scheme with two fast point guards on the floor at the same time.

"If shooting guard is where Coach wants me to play, I'll play there," Craft said. "It really doesn't matter to me because playing is playing. As long as we're playing well as a team, if that's what's going to help us be the best team we can, I have no problem with it."

Craft returns to the Buckeyes having made a remarkable impact at point guard as a freshman, where he solidified himself as one of the best defenders in the country. Now with the scoring output lost from Diebler, Lighty and Lauderdale, the coaching staff will rely on him to expand his game by scoring more.

"Aaron Craft can score," Matta said. "I don't want to say we didn't ask him to last year, but he saw himself as more of a distributor. His ability to score is not much of a concern for me." Craft made big plays on defense and found other more prolific scorers on the offensive end, averaging only 6.9 points per game in his freshman season.

But it wasn't because he wasn't capable of scoring.

"This year with Jon and Dave leaving, (Craft) is going to have to probably increase his scoring productivity, which he is very capable of doing," Boals said. "What people don't understand is he was a 2-guard on his AAU team and he averaged 27 points per game for his high school team. He is very capable of doing it, and we are counting on him to score for us this year."

The emergence of Scott might not be quite as vital to the team this year as Craft's was last season, specifically because Craft has already given Matta and his staff security at the point guard position. But if Scott shows he can defend, it may just give the Buckeyes an extra option without necessarily removing Craft from the game.

"The two things Scott brings to the table are a pure point guard mentality and a defensive presence," Boals said. "He has done a great job in the offseason working on his jump shot, and with Buford and Jared demanding attention, he is going to get wide looks.

"The college game is a little faster than he's used to, but I think he's adjusted very well. I think he can come in and contribute early."

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