NEW YORK, April 10, 2015 – Santa Cruz Warriors guard Aaron Craft has been selected as the 2015 NBA Development League’s Defensive Player of the year by a vote of the league’s 18 head coaches. Craft will be honored with a trophy for his efforts by NBA D-League President Malcolm Turner prior to tonight’s playoff game against the Oklahoma City Blue, which will be broadcast live on ESPNNEWS at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Craft (6-2, 192, Ohio State) played in all 50 regular season games for Santa Cruz, anchoring a Warriors defense that held opponents to league-lows 42 percent shooting from the field and 99.6 points per 100 possessions. Santa Cruz’ opponents averaged 102.2 points, good for third-lowest in the NBA D-League. Individually, Craft averaged an NBA D-League best 2.5 steals while topping the league with a 1.4 steal-to-turnover ratio. Additionally, he 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,” said Chris Alpert, Vice President of Basketball Operations for the NBA D-League. “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.”
Craft helped lead the Warriors to the West Division Championship and a 35-15 record, tied for the best in the league. The team earned the top overall seed in the Western Conference and currently owns a 1-0 lead over the Blue in the first round of the 2015 NBA D-League Playoffs.
“Aaron is one of the soundest defenders I’ve ever been around and without a doubt he deserves this award,” said head coach Hill. “He has been phenomenal for our team all year long and it has been amazing to coach him.”
A four-year contributor at Ohio State, Craft was a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year (2012, 2014) and was named the NABC Defensive Player of the Year as a senior in 2014. Undrafted last season, Craft earned an invitation to the Golden State Warriors training camp in September 2014.
All-Time NBA D-League Defensive Players of the Year:
Aaron Craft (Santa Cruz Warriors, 2014-15)
DeAndre Liggins (Sioux Falls Skyforce, 2013-14)
Stefhon Hannah (Santa Cruz Warriors, 2012-13)
Stefhon Hannah (Dakota Wizards, 2011-12)
Chris Johnson (Dakota Wizards, 2010-11)
Greg Stiemsma (Sioux Falls Skyforce, 2009-10)
Brent Petway (Idaho Stampede, 2008-09)
Stefane Lasme (Los Angeles D-Fenders, 2007-08)
Mouhamed Sene (Idaho Stampede, 2007-08)
Renaldo Major (Dakota Wizards, 2006-07)
Derrick Zimmerman (Austin Toros, 2005-06)
Derrick Zimmerman (Columbus Riverdragons, 2004-05)
Karim Shabazz (Charleston Lowgators, 2003-04)
Mikki Moore (Roanoke Dazzle, 2002-03)
Jeff Myers (Greenville Groove, 2001-02)