Craft ready to go 'all-out' for Pearl, Tennessee

Ohio guard gives verbal commitment

Ohio basketball prospect Aaron Craft became the foundation of what will be a large 2010 class of Tennessee recruits Wednesday by verbally committing to sign with the Vols.

"I think it's going to be great to be a part of a program that's been on the rise,'' said Craft, who scored a 32 on his ACT and possesses a 4.0 grade-point average. "It's easy for me to see myself going all-out for Coach (Bruce) Pearl and his coaching staff.''

A look at Craft's resume indicates he has learned the value of hard work, even if neither Rivals.com nor Scout.com has him rated in their top 100 players in the Class of 2010.

A 6-foot-1 combo guard, Craft has helped lead the Ohio Red AAU team to a 134-3 record over the past two seasons and been the starting point guard on a Liberty-Benton High School team in Findlay, Ohio, that's 47-2 over the past two seasons.

Craft's father, John, has talked to a number of people in the Tennessee basketball community to learn how his son projects with the Vols.

"I've heard some people compare him to Dane Bradshaw, and from what I've heard about Dane, that's very flattering, and there could be some similarities,'' John Craft said. "He (Aaron) distributes the ball and he defends. Aaron's biggest attributes are his (basketball) IQ and determination.''

Aaron Craft averaged 18.3 points per game running the point for his high school team last season, making 53 percent of his shots, including 36 percent beyond the 3-point arc. He also made 82 percent of his free throws and had 88 assists and 91 steals in 22 games.

In addition to basketball, the 185-pound Craft starts at quarterback for his football team and led the Eagles to the Division V state-title game as a freshman.

Craft completed 72 percent (350-for-485) of his passes over two seasons for 4,758 yards and 48 touchdowns with 14 interceptions with a cumulative 24-3 record.

"Aaron likes and respects football,'' John Craft said, "but his heart is in basketball.''

Other basketball offers came from Dayton, Miami of Ohio, Bowling Green and Toledo. Craft also is being recruited by Harvard, and he has canceled a recruiting visit scheduled with Michigan after coming to see UT on Aug. 23.

"I had an idea of what I thought the campus might look like, a big Division I school, and I'd pictured it all spread out like Ohio State,'' Aaron Craft said. "But everything was close-knit and the facilities were close together, and I really liked that.

"I came away with a really good feel after meeting some of the players briefly, and I got a really good idea of what the coaches are trying to do.''

UT associate head coach Tony Jones and Pearl saw Craft in an AAU tournament in Cincinnati this summer, and Pearl followed him in Orlando, Fla.

"Coach Pearl had flown out to Los Angeles for a media function, and he still took the time out of his schedule to call me,'' Craft said. "That really jumped out in my mind, that he made that time for me.''

As for the Bradshaw comparison, Craft said he's trying to get his hands on the former Vols' book, "Vertical Leap,'' to gain insight as to what he brought to the program.

"I go into games with a mentality that offense can go wrong for anybody at anytime, but on the defensive end, if something goes wrong it's your fault, because that's about how much effort and intensity you put into it,'' Craft said. "I view myself as a team player; I try to help my teammates get better in practice and I look for them in the games, and I think I can bring that tough defensive side that can carry over to offense.''

The Vols could end up signing five players in the 2010 class.

Tennessee has a verbal commitment from 6-9 power forward Kenny Hall from Stone Mountain, Ga., (Rivals No. 49 overall, Scout's No. 31 overall) in the 2009 class and is looking to add another.

The Vols could lose as many as seven scholarship players over the next two seasons to the NBA and graduation.

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Comments » 27

wildberry14 writes:

hes definitely not gonna be able to play center and shut down dominating opponents like he did to joey dorsey

Volomatic writes:

let him replace crompton

cjraney writes:

What? Not in the top 100? Offers from Dayton and Toledo? Our recruiting is in the crapper, the coaches are clueless, etc., etc.

Sarcasm intended. You can't teach smart and I'm sure the coaches saw some good ability. Welcome kid.

MidTennVol writes:

My goodness, why on earth would any kid choose a full ride from UT over a full ride from Harvard? Good grief.

I love BP and don't question anything he does but if it was my kid and he wasn't a for-sure, for-sure future NBA star...

Harvard's loss is our gain...welcome to big-time basketball, Aaron...

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

Denmarkvol:
I see pluses both ways. The kid gets to get into a program that is on the tube, plays big-name opponents, and has a least a chacne at the NCAA's. There is nothing to keep him out of Harvard Grad school once he is done playing ball at UT. The grad school is more valuable than the undergrad, by some accounts.

For UT, this adds a player to play D and distribute the ball. I liked how Dane passed, a good decision-maker. If Craft can deliver a 3, play D, handle the ball, and psss well, he'll be valuable. Not everything is about a 44" vertical.

andefromtn#212139 writes:

This young man sounds smart, and willing to put forth the effort to success. He's already a winner on the high school level and that will help him at UT. Thanks for choosing the orange and white.

BobbyGraham writes:

18 points a game? 36% from three? 82% free throws? He is certainly no Dane Bradshaw thank goodness.

Orangebrewbasher writes:

Reading his last name I thought this was gonna be a shot at our football team about the UCLA game. Sounds like a smart kid, 32 on the ACT, that's unbeliveable, at least to me, lol

ETNTigerFan writes:

A smart, athletic combo guard picking UT over Harvard. Sounds like a good pickup for the Vols. He must really want to be there and he'll probably be there for 4 years too. Good pickup.

utvolz#637682 writes:

Aaron,

Welcome to the BIG ORANGE NATION!

richvol writes:

Love those smart players...they win ballgames.

Ohiovol16 writes:

Trust me when I say this, you will love having this kid around for four years!! He is an outstanding young man and a great athlete. I went to UT in the late 80's and I have had the pleasure of coaching this kid in football for three years now, he can play!! To bad Coach Fulmer hasn't taken any notice because he is probably a better QB then he is a basketball player but he loves basketball and this offer is awesome for him! Good luck to you Aaron!!

Coach S!!

MOOREVOLS writes:

Yesterday I bought basketball season tickets for the first time ever. Even though they're in the upper deck I'm ready for basketball to crank up. I've never been as excited about basketball as I have been these last three years.

miamiVOL writes:

always good to have solid character guys in a recruiting class, G.L to him while on his journey to rocky top

mattucket#231689 writes:

This is the type of player that goes to some mid-major that makes a run in the NCAA tourney and everybody asks, "Why didn't the major Div 1 schools recruit him?"

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

catscratch:

without being racial, can I be racial?? we are gueesing this kid is white. if so, take a look around. see many highend d1 schools with white guards?? Posts, yes; shooting guards, a few; forwards, not so much. point gurards?? rate; Florida and Duke are the typical exceptions.

my feeling is that the white kids don't 'stand out' as much to college coaches becasue they don't have the ups. these kids end up at the mid-majors, such as butler, gonzaga, drake, and so forth.

this isn't condemning or condoning, it is just how I see it. The positive side?? A lot of these kids can really play ball. I think you may see the bigger programs come 'round the corner on this and begin to look at results AS WELL AS style.

Before any of you get me wrong, I loved watching Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins highlights. Thing is, I also got a huge kick out of Larry Byrd. Two different styles, but fun to watch.

rclarkvols#224537 writes:

For those of you who don't know,; Harvard does not offer athletic scholarships. Black, white or other if Pearl offered him I say welcome to Tennessee and Go Vols!

WVVOLFAN writes:

60 days until it's BB time in TN!

this is the first article I read when I picked up the papaer today. man how times have changed.

b_neas writes:

Pearl does not recruit with stars by their name. He has a certain type athlete that fits his system. Long arms that can run and defend, if they can shoot thats just a plus. Pearl is also big on character and work ethic. They do not measure most of this in the silly star rankings. Even though he did not recruit players like Jujuan and Dane they were not highly recruited but perfect for his system. Jujuan had the physical attributes and Dane the work ethic and character.

GreerVol22 writes:

Volmatic, good point about Crompton.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

catscratch, I think cbp is looking for the ball movement. remember what a poor job the UT pg's did this year???

valid point aobut the D, but then again a lot of what you get is on the dribble.

golfballs03 writes:

Pearl will get guys who make the team better, and I am confident Craft will.

Volumnus writes:

Great!!!! A true "Student Athlete"! That young man should gain us scholarships, not cost them.

junder13 writes:

this guy is mad impressive. maybe he can play qb too! Lord knows we need it!

williamshockley#225607 writes:

Any chance we could get Coach Pearl to teach Fulmer and staff how to make halftime adjustments.

volmattna writes:

How can anyone say they are not to big on how many stars a kid has by there name. Thats stupid in any sport. Pearl would take a 5 star over a 3 star any day of the week. Now i realize its nice to have the smart role player type of guy that does all the smart things. But ill take a 5 star over a 3 all the time.

volschick_21 writes:

See, this is why I respect Pearl. He is an incredible coach. And he always signs players like Craft. People who believe in teamwork and are intelligant. (All around, good people as well as team players.) and Coach Pearl is always respectful of the fans. he never blames the players. If something goes wrong he takes the blame. These are the qualities that it takes to be a great coach.

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