Santa Cruz Warriors guard Aaron Craft named D-League Defensive Player of the Year

Aaron Craft added another defensive award to the book shelf on Friday. The Santa Cruz Warriors point guard was named the 2015 D-League Defensive Player of the Year after averaging a league-best 2.5 steals and 1.4 steal-to-turnover ratio.

An Ohio State product — he was a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year (2012, 2014) and NABC Defensive Player of the Year (2014) — Craft was selected following a vote among the D-League’s 18 head coaches.  Craft will be presented the trophy by D-League President Malcolm Turner prior to Friday’s playoff game against the visiting Oklahoma City Blue.

Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals (Santa Cruz leads 1-0) will be nationally televised live on ESPNEWS beginning at 7:30 p.m.

“Aaron is one of the soundest defenders I’ve ever been around and without a doubt he deserves this award,” Santa Cruz coach Casey Hill said in a statement. “He has been phenomenal for our team all year long and it has been amazing to coach him.”

Some stats: The 6-foot-2 guard played in all 50 regular season games for Santa Cruz, anchoring a Warriors defense that held opponents to a league-low 42 percent shooting from the field and 99.6 points per 100 possessions.  Craft also averaged 9.2 points, 6.2 assists and 4.9 rebounds in 36.1 minutes.

“Aaron has shown his aptitude, intensity and desire on the defensive end all season long,” Chris Alpert, vice president of basketball operations for the D-League, said in a statement. “His ability as a lock-down defender has been a tremendous asset for coach Casey Hill and the Warriors this season. We congratulate Aaron on an impressive rookie campaign and this well-deserved award.”

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