CHICAGO: If Aaron Craft is going to make it in the NBA, he’s probably going to have to do it the hard way. Three talent evaluators all polled at the NBA’s predraft camp this week agreed the Ohio State star is likely to go undrafted next month.
Craft’s shooting woes are evident to everyone. He averaged 10 points a game only once in four years with the Buckeyes and shot 30 percent on 3-pointers as a senior. He appeared at the NBA’s predraft camp this week acknowledging his shooting woes while insisting he’s still working on it.
“We all wish we could shoot like Steph Curry,” Craft said. “But that’s just not the case.”
Craft became one of the country’s most beloved college players because of his hustle and tenacity, particularly defensively. The Cavs already have a point guard like that in Matthew Dellavedova, whose gritty defense annoyed opponents throughout his rookie season.
But Dellavedova sharpened his 3-point shooting and became a consistent threat by the end of the season, ending the year shooting 37 percent on 3s. It was a higher percentage than Kyrie Irving and Jarrett Jack. But Delly also shot 38 percent from 3 during his four years at St. Mary’s, much higher than Craft.
Craft didn’t watch many Cavs games this season, he said, but he’s aware of Delly’s trek from undrafted to rotation player because Craft’s roommate was a big Cavs fan.
“I definitely know of him,” Craft said of Dellavedova. “Great kid. I’d just love to have an opportunity like he does.”
One NBA talent evaluator, however, likened Craft to the Brooklyn Nets’ Jorge Gutierrez, who was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year at Cal in 2012 before going undrafted.
Gutierrez spent time with the Canton Charge this season before latching on with the Nets. He’s under contract to them next season, but only a small portion of the deal is guaranteed.
Craft believes if he continues to improve his shot, he could some day evolve into a player like Kirk Hinrich. That’s a lofty comparison considering Hinrich was a lottery pick, but for now, Craft will continue trying to get jobs with his defense.
“My calling card has been defense since I’ve been playing basketball,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to continue to lean on. That’s what I do.”
Arizona State point guard Jahii Carson only measured 5-foot-9¾ at the NBA combine, easily making him the shortest player here. That makes his 43.5-inch vertical leap all the more impressive.
Carson tied with Oklahoma State’s Markel Brown for the highest vertical jump of the 60 camp invitees.
Carson was a teammate of Cavs guard Carrick Felix while with the Sun Devils and compared Felix’s motor to the Denver Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried.
“He’s a workhorse. He tries to outwork everybody. He tries to give the most energy and intensity there is,” Carson said. “With that motor, he’s going to be in the league a long time.”
Former Cavs General Manager Wayne Embry had heard enough about the size of Indiana player Noah Vonleh’s hands that he had to get a look for himself. Embry, whose hands are as big as tigers’ paws, waited in the media interview room for more than 30 minutes just to compare hand sizes with Vonleh. The youngster won.
Vonleh’s hands measured 11.75, the second-largest in the history of the combine. And while his hands were about as wide as Embry’s, his fingers was just a bit longer.
Vonleh, a 6-9 forward/center, is projected to be a top 10 pick in this draft.
It will be fairly impossible for Glenn Robinson III to surpass his father’s legacy. Robinson II was the first overall pick in the 1994 draft out of Purdue and scored more than 14,000 points over 11 seasons.
This Robinson certainly won’t be the top pick next month, but he has used his father’s experience to his advantage.
“Not a lot of these guys can sit there and say their father was the No. 1 pick and helped them through some things that they’ve already been through,” Robinson III said. “I take it as a blessing.”
There are five teams (including the Cavs) still looking for head coaches. If one of them wants UConn’s Kevin Ollie, it’s going to cost them.
One source with knowledge of at least one team’s coaching search said Ollie will want a contract larger than the five-year, $25 million deal the Golden State Warriors handed Steve Kerr.
The reasoning is simple: Ollie has a longer record of success and accomplished more (won a national title) than Kerr has as a head coach. This is Kerr’s first head-coaching job.
Kentucky freshman Julian Randle said he interviewed with the Cavs on Wednesday … The tallest player at the combine was Baylor’s Isaiah Austin, who measured 6-foot-11¾ without shoes. … Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross apparently hasn’t stayed in very good shape since the season ended. He measured in with 16.3 percent body fat, easily the highest of anyone here.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.