Watching North Carolina and Michigan State playing on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson last season was one of the coolest moments in my college basketball watching history. And I was sitting in front of a TV. Four aircraft carrier games headline the college hoops opening weekend schedule including the Ohio State Buckeyes and Marquette Golden Eagles playing on the USS Yorktown off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. For OSU starting point guard Aaron Craft and his family, Friday’s game holds extra special meaning.
Not only will Aaron play on that ship but so will his younger sister, Cait. She is currently a freshman guard on the Buckeyes’ women’s team who will battle Notre Dame prior to the men’s game.
“It’s going to be lots of fun,” Craft told me at the Big Ten’s Media Day in Chicago. “It’s definitely a once in a lifetime experience. It’s going to be awesome.”
It is also going to be extremely meaningful for the Craft family since Aaron’s older brother Brandon serves in the United States Army. In fact, Brandon left for his second deployment in Afghanistan this past March on the same day Aaron helped his Buckeyes defeat Syracuse in the Elite Eight and punch their ticket to the Final Four.
“It’s going to be a good day for the Craft home,” Aaron said with a smile on his face. “Just to be a part of that and share that with my sister and especially with my brother being in the Army. It has special meaning.”
“Aaron is a very intuitive young man,” Ohio State head coach Thad Matta told me. “He sees the big scope of life. You hope our guys have the same understanding that he does going into this game.”
“I view that game as something that number one, for our players that they’ll never forget, and number two, you’re doing something for people that are serving the country. A lot of people don’t even realize we’re at war right now and guys are fighting for their lives to make our lives better.”
One family that without question realizes the significance of what is still going on in places like Afghanistan is the Craft’s. While they are sitting on the deck of the USS Yorktown Friday, proudly watching their daughter and son compete on the court, Brandon will certainly be in the back of their mind, knowing all he is sacrificing so his younger siblings are afforded the opportunity to partake in such a unique event.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks