- Dana O'Neil, College Basketball
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The answer to the riddle, one apparently as hard to solve as that of the Sphinx, must be here in this basement apartment just off the Ohio State campus, the one with the Fathead of Urban Meyer's head tilting in the window. There's no place else to look. Others have tried and come up empty, so the solution must be here. It has to be.
And yet, when the riddle is posed, there is a pause, a bit of head-scratching, and "hmmmmmm ...''
Until finally, mercifully, Logan Jones, bless his soul, thinks he has it. While his three roommates sit silently trying to come up with something, anything, Jones offers up his aha! moment.
"Ice cream. He eats ice cream like every night," Jones says.
So there it is America, the secret dirt, the unearthed gossip:
Aaron Craft has a vice and it is a post-sunset addiction to cookie dough ice cream.
Someone alert TMZ.
"It's true,'' the Ohio State point guard admits when confronted later in the day with his problem. "If I could eat ice cream every day and at every meal, I would. But it's sort of frowned upon in society.''
Asked if he has a go-to brand, Craft shakes his head.
"No. You've got to go with what's on sale,'' he said.
Sigh. Of course you do, if you're Aaron Craft.
Take the basketball out of his hand and what you have here is a four-corner square, a kid so squeaky clean it almost pisses you off. Wait, ticks you off. Craft doesn't curse. We don't want to offend.
He carries a 3.89 GPA in nutrition, with an eye on medical school, and he received the first B of his life in college (and it was a B-plus in chemistry). A Google search will lead you to a video of Craft solving a Rubik's Cube ... in just more than a minute. And in high school, he was both valedictorian of his class and National Honor Society president.
He's a devout Christian, engaged to be married and a member of Ohio State's Athletes in Action. In August, he joined Mission of Hope in Haiti and when he has time, he visits sick children in the hospital and helps feed the homeless.
Aaron went to the dentist for the first time in 7 years. No cavities, no wisdom teeth. Of course he wouldn't. #PerfectRoomieProbs
— CRAFTRoomies (@CRAFTRoomies) May 2, 2013
Oh, and he's pretty good at basketball, too -- two-time Cousy Award semifinalist, two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Ohio State record holder and general glue guy for the No. 5 Buckeyes, who host Maryland on Wednesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Craft is so unimpeachable, his roommates' Twitter account -- @CRAFTRoomies -- is a send-up of his wholesomeness. Here's a picture of Aaron on the first day of school; here he is doing his homework; here he is vacuuming the apartment.
Aaron at the bus stop on his last first day of school #backtoschool #SeniorYear pic.twitter.com/emBtKCjeqh
— CRAFTRoomies (@CRAFTRoomies) Aug. 21, 2013
"He really is that guy,'' Luke Roberts said. "I can see why people at other schools hate him. I'd hate him if I went to another school, probably.''
It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke -- a basketball player (Craft), a baseball player (Greg Greve), a football player (Roberts, who is transferring to Harvard next semester), a golfer (Jones) and another guy (that would be Michael Duffy, who played hoops at nearby Division III Wittenberg but somehow has been tabbed the "non-athlete"), walk into a bar.
Except the joke would end there.
Craft would never walk into a bar.
"Yeah, we've learned to not even ask if he wants to go out with us or anything like that,'' teammate Lenzelle Smith Jr. said. "Or do anything out of the ordinary, or do anything ordinary for a college kid, for that matter.''
Not that Craft's roommates are hellions. Part of the comfort here is shared values. The five all met through Athletes in Action, and their faith guides their actions, and at times, inaction.
Mulan is on. Needless to say the atmosphere in the apartment is tense.
— CRAFTRoomies (@CRAFTRoomies) Sept. 26, 2013
"I'm just as happy to hang out with him here," Jones said.
Here would be your typical college apartment, done up straight out of the pages of College Guy Décor magazine. A play-sized basketball hoop hangs on one wall; an Ohio State decal is opposite, a few sports posters stuck to the other walls randomly.
On this November day, miniature stockings are hung by the chimney with care. But they've been there since December 2012, so this is pure coincidence, not holiday decorating.
A well-worn sectional sofa dominates the room. It has been with the apartment crew for three years, having previously served an unknown period of time with a friend's aunt and her nine cats.
"I think we wiped it off,'' Duffy said.
The sofa, along with the roommates, has enjoyed a little bit of fame on campus lately. A moving truck came in and took it to the middle of the women's basketball practice gym at the Schottenstein Center in early November, part of the campus celebration of Taco Thursday.
That was the world's first introduction to the goofy side, if not dark side, of Craft, thanks to his roommates.
It began simply enough, a bunch of guys eating dinner one night, each chomping on his own menu selection. Someone suggested they actually have a real meal one night a week, at a set time and actually eat the same food. Tacos, a favorite, were selected, and Thursday became the designated day.
Rules were established -- one guest allowed for whoever's turn it is to buy; no girls -- and a tradition was born.
"We actually say Taco Tursday,'' Jones said. "Hard T, no H.''
Taco Night #NoGirlsAllowed https://vine.co/v/bxUZhVvA32A
— CRAFTRoomies (@CRAFTRoomies) April 29, 2013
Thanks to Twitter, the legend of Taco Tursday grew to such epic proportions that someone in the university marketing department thought they ought to host one for people on campus.
So last month, the sofa was temporarily relocated, pictures were signed by each of the roommates and Taco Tursday went public.
More than 1,000 people showed up.
"I said to Greg, 'Picture yourself on move-in day. You move into this humble apartment. A year and a half later, you're called on this stage because of tacos,' '' Jones said. "It was crazy.''
The novelty of Taco Tursday was part of the attraction, but much of it, too, was Craft. Even on a campus where football is king, he is something of a Big Man On (and around) Campus. He has been asked to throw out a first pitch at Ohio State baseball games ("It was really good. Of course,'' Greve said) and is frequently swarmed for autographs or picture requests. Naturally, he poses and signs for every one. In the offseason, coach Thad Matta stepped in to limit his number of speaking engagements. Otherwise, Craft would have one every night.
"We had a seventh-grade girls' volleyball team run four blocks to catch up and take a picture with him one time,'' Roberts said.
Which is why his Average Joe roommates and his comfy couch are something of a sanctuary, a place where the boring Craft can be normal. When the door closes at the apartment, he is no longer Aaron Craft, Superstar. He's just the dude who studies all the time, hordes Tupperware and eats ice cream. Even if they struggle to come up with dirt, these guys really do know Craft best. He's not the nationally known point guard here.
He's just the guy who will argue over everything and anything from philosophy to how David Blaine performs a magic trick.
He's the guy they bust on because he's actually done the math to figure out when it makes sense to come home after a road game and when, if he sleeps in the gym, he'll actually get more sleep.
"He's really just a dork,'' Roberts said.
So the reason the roommates have been asked to dish is because no one else really could.
Asked to solve the riddle and name his four-year starter's biggest vice, Matta just laughed.
"If there is one, I don't know about it,'' he said.
Craft's teammates, so desperate to find a weakness, have invented a new game. They offer up two scenarios in hopes to trip him up. For example, you have to cut class or go out on a Saturday night: Which do you do?
"I just go at them logically and then they get really mad,'' Craft said.
At Big Ten media day in October, Craft playfully hid Smith's cell phone, but naturally he had a good reason.
"You don't need your phone,'' he said. "You're here to talk to people.''
Smith just shook his head.
"You know what he said on the way down here? Not 'have a good time.' No. He said, 'Don't say anything stupid,' " Smith said.
Maybe, then, Craft's vice is he has no vices, which makes him annoying -- which, using the transitive theory, then is a vice.
Or something like that.
Because really, this riddle is that impossible to solve.
"He doesn't make his bed … every day,'' Greve said.
"He corrects people's grammar all the time,'' Duffy said. "I think even Coach Matta. He'll write something on the board that's wrong and, after everyone leaves, Aaron will go up and tell him that it's wrong.''
Aaron's roomies helping him practice his demonstration speech for class. His topic? How to be a teachers pet #Craft pic.twitter.com/crYOyp8Ss4
— CRAFTRoomies (@CRAFTRoomies) April 9, 2013
And that's the best they can come up with.
"People are always looking for the inside scoop," Jones said. "What's he like behind closed doors. There just isn't one.''
Unless, that is, the scoop is for ice cream.
Then we've got the makings of a scandal.
Aaron Craft isn't just a lockdown defender and vital piece to No. 5 Ohio State's puzzle. He's the perfect roommate, too. Just ask, well, his roommates.