Aaron Craft thought he had the recruiting thing taken care of almost a year ago. The 6-foot-1 point guard from Liberty-Benton felt good enough about Bruce Pearl and Tennessee to go ahead and make a verbal pledge prior to his junior year.
As time wore on, Craft realized that he needed to explore his options further. Ultimately, that decision allowed him to make a Sunday commitment to Thad Matta and Ohio State. But, he had a very tough phone call to make before that could happen.
"It was real hard," said Craft of his phone call to Tennessee to inform them that he was re-opening his recruitment. "Coach Pearl and his staff were great to me. They didn't do anything wrong or make me feel neglected. I just had to do something for my best interests. That was a tough call to make"
Once freed up from his commitment to Tennessee, Craft began to think hard about Ohio State and his boyhood dreams of suiting up for the home state power.
"I did know a little about the situation being around Jared (Sullinger) and him talking about it all of the time," said Craft. "I just needed to hear from them and see where they stood. Just growing up in Ohio, you think about Ohio State when you are out in the yard playing football or basketball. It's always been in the back of my mind. I just feel fortunate that the opportunity arose for me."
As it turns out, the time he's spent with Sullinger and Jordan Sibert with whom he teams up on for All-Ohio helped make the decision easier. Throw in that the Buckeyes also had commitments from Lenzelle Smith and DeShaun Thomas and Craft saw a special opportunity in Columbus.
"It's great to know that I'm going to be able to spend four years with a group like that," Craft told Buckeye Sports. "I've been with Jared and Jordan for three years now so I'm looking forward to spending even more time with them. I've played against Lenzelle and talked to him and also talked to DeShaun some. I'm excited."
While his relationship with current and former teammates helped, Craft still had to feel at ease with the Ohio State staff and the addition of assistant coach Jeff Boals really helped to get the ball rolling.
"I had a decent relationship with Coach Boals at Akron. I was already comfortable with him," said Craft. "Then going down on Thursday and getting around Coach Matta and the rest of the staff, I just felt at home. They were real open and honest with me."
A floor general who can knock down open shots, Craft also takes a lot of pride on the defensive end. A whiz in the classroom who has already scored a 32 on the ACT and sports a 4.0 GPA, he also feels that his hoops IQ is an asset.
"I think some of my stregnths are my defense. I enjoy that end of the floor moreso than some other people," said Craft. "My basketball IQ, you can always continue to improve it but I feel good with it.
With his recruitment out of the way, again, Craft is looking forward to a busy summer. He's hitting the NBPA top 100 camp in Charlottesville, Va. in a few weeks and he'll also be traveling with All-Ohio. When he's not on the road, he'll be continuing to work on rounding out his game before his arrival in Columbus.
"You constantly need to get better at ball handling and making reads on defense," said Craft. "I also want to continue to make my shot more consistent and find more ways to score when I get into the lane."