The Santa Cruz Warriors acquired point guard Aaron Craft after Elliot Williams was signed to a 10-day contract.
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Craft, 24, was a highly recognized player for the Ohio State Buckeyes before going undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft. He was given an opportunity to play in the 2014 NBA Summer League, joining the Golden State Warriors in Las Vegas. He averaged 7.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists that summer in 22 minutes played per game.
That fall, the 6-foot-2 point guard would find himself signing a training camp deal with Golden State. He was waived over a month later, but he was picked up by Santa Cruz as an affiliate player. Craft went on to play 50 games with Santa Cruz, playing a significant role in the team’s championship run. He ended the 2015 season with a D-League title ring and D-League Defensive Player of the Year honors, averaging 9.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.5 steals.
Finding an opportunity to play overseas, Craft signed a deal with the Szolnoki Olaj in Hungary. He played in 12 league games with Szolnoki, averaging 6.8 points, 2.9 boards, 4.2 assists and 1.9 steals on 51.7 percent shooting. Craft also appeared in 10 Eurocup games with the Hungarian club, averaging 4.3 points, 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals.
Per the official press release, Santa Cruz head coach Casey Hill was quoted on the matter of re-aquiring Craft:
"“We are thrilled to welcome Aaron back to Santa Cruz,” said Hill. The opportunity to have him back on our roster is a blessing. He has proven leadership qualities at this level and beyond.”"
Craft’s return to Santa Cruz comes after the announcement of Elliot Williams signing a 10-day contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. Williams, 26, has averaged 28.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.2 steals in 16 starts for Santa Cruz this season. He’s also shot a career-high 50 percent from the field, and he most notably earned Player of the Month honors this season for the month of November. A Memphis native, Williams is no stranger to the NBA having spent some time with the Portland Trail Blazers, Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans.
Coach Hill spoke to the Santa Cruz Sentinel on his feeling about Williams departing for Memphis:
"“All along, since he got here at the beginning of the season, that’s been the plan for him. And there’s not a bone in my body that’s disappointed by losing him, because he deserves this,” Hill said. “The fact that he even played in the D-League this year shows how much confidence he has in himself. He had offers overseas for seven figures, and he knows he’s an NBA player and has that kind of confidence in himself. And he’s proven it.“He’s going up to the NBA. That’s where he belongs. He’s an NBA player.”"
Also joining the team is Kevon Looney, who was drafted by Golden State with the 30th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Looney has unfortunately been able to see the floor thus far this year, rehabbing from surgery he received last August that was necessary in repairing what was described as a torn labrum in his right hip.
Coach Hill told the Sentinel that Looney actually scrimmaged with the team in practice, and the results were positive:
"“His instincts are still there. He went live with us once and played pretty well,” said Hill. “He’s still a little off-balance and his strength and his edge isn’t quite there. But that will come the more he plays with us and stays with us and continues to work.”"
Although Craft is expected to play against the Iowa Energy on Friday during the D-League Showcase, Looney will remain out of the Showcase lineup, but he’s expected to start appearing in the games that follow.