Ohio State Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft (4) reacts to his last second shot as time expired in the first half against the Walsh Cavaliers during their NCAA men's basketball game at the Value City Arena, October 30, 2012. (Dispatch photo by Neal C. Lauren)

Ohio State basketball without Aaron Craft? It almost happened

Somewhere, there exists an alternate timeline where Aaron Craft wasn’t sitting inside the Covelli Center on Friday night. It’s possible, almost likely, that the decorated point guard would have wound up in the hall of fame at whichever school he would’ve ended up playing for, but for a long time that destination was definitely not going to be Ohio State.

For a good while, it was going to be Tennessee. The Findlay native played AAU basketball with future Buckeyes Jared Sullinger, Jordan Sibert and JD Weatherspoon, but their future school hadn’t spent any time recruiting the player who would eventually become Ohio State’s all-time leader in steals and assists. For a good while, he was headed to Tennessee until coach Bruce Pearl impermissibly hosted him for a barbecue at his house and then lied to the NCAA about it.

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It led to Pearl’s ouster from the university and, eventually, Craft’s decision to sign with the Buckeyes in the class of 2010. But when Craft suddenly became an uncommitted recruit, Ohio State coach Thad Matta and his staff had some serious work to do.

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