Craft Named Big Ten Defensive Player of Year

He may have been shut out from the conference's first-team this season, but Aaron Craft was named the Big Ten's 2014 Defensive Player of the Year on Monday. A two-time recipient of the award, Craft has led the conference with 2.6 steals per game this season.

All through the preseason, all anybody wanted to talk to Aaron Craft about was how he'd adjust to college basketball's newest rule.

But if Craft had any trouble with the restrictions that were placed on defenders using their hands, it was tough to tell.

The Big Ten's leader in steals with 2.6 per game, Craft was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Year on Monday, marking the second time that he's won such award in his career. The Findlay, Ohio native was also named the league's top defender in 2012 after breaking Ohio State's single-season steal record with 98 thefts to his credit.

Now a four-time selection to the Big Ten's all-defensive team, Craft's latest honor comes just one day after he set the conference's career record for steals with a four-theft effort in a 69-67 win over Michigan State. Heading into the final postseason of his career, the Buckeyes point guard lays claim to 328 steals, which moved him past former Illinois guard Bruce Douglas' mark of 324.

In addition to again being named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year, Craft was also a selected to the conference's second-team by the media and third-team by the coaches. Through the first 31 games of his senior season, Craft has averaged 9.5 points, 4.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game.

Also Ohio State's all-time leader in assists, Craft is a three-time Academic All-American and one of three players to ever repeat as college basketball's Academic All-American of the Year. The Liberty-Benton product is also a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which is presented each year to the outstanding senior NCAA Division I Student-Athlete of the Year across nine different sports.

Ranked 24th in the nation with a 23-8 record to their credit, Craft's Buckeyes will return to action on Thursday when No. 5 Ohio State faces 12th-seeded Purdue in the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis.

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