Bob Hunter commentary | Rumblings: Schoolwork keeps Craft, Ross from trying out for U.S. team

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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With point guards such as Yogi Ferrell of Indiana and Andre Hollins of Minnesota there, it’s logical to wonder why Aaron Craft of Ohio State is not in Colorado Springs, Colo., this week trying to make the U.S. team that will play in the World University Games next month.

Craft was invited but declined, as did teammate LaQuinton Ross. Both are enrolled in summer classes, which might have been a factor in their decisions because certain classes they need to progress toward graduation are not offered as often now that Ohio State is on the semester system.

Craft did manage to get away for three days this week to attend a Nike skills academy for point guards in Union, N.J., that was put on by NBA guards Deron Williams and Kyrie Irving. D’Angelo Russell of Louisville, Ky., a 2014 recruit who committed to Ohio State this month, also attended the camp.

Ross and teammate Sam Thompson are scheduled to be at a skills camp for wing forwards put on by NBA star Kevin Durant this weekend in Washington.

Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner said on WBBL-FM in Grand Rapids, Mich., that the Wolverines will defeat Ohio State this season.

“We always have room for improvement, but this is definitely a championship-caliber football team that will win in the Big House against Ohio State,” Gardner said, as reported by The Detroit News. “We don’t feel we’re inferior to anyone in the country, and we’re going to give it our all.”

To illustrate that statement, Gardner noted that while Monday was an off day during voluntary summer workouts, he already had worked out twice with two groups of receivers.

Illinois State has become the destination choice of two former Ohio State football players in the past 12 months.

Linebacker David Perkins, who surprised many by leaving the OSU program in May despite a strong spring, is expected to surface with the Redbirds this fall. Because Illinois State is a Football Championship Subdivision team, he will be able to play immediately, and has three seasons eligibility remaining.

He will join another former Buckeye, cornerback Dominic Clarke, who was kicked off the OSU team in winter 2012 soon after coach Urban Meyer took control. He ended up at Illinois State last season and had 40 tackles and an interception while playing in all 13 games, starting four.

Aaron Horton, the Crew’s first homegrown player when he signed on May 17, 2011, has finally found a place where he can get to play. The Crew announced that Horton’s short-term loan with the Los Angeles Blues of USL Pro has been extended until the end of the regular season, a pretty big deal for a player with his fifth club since April.

Horton has played in all four Blues matches since his arrival on May 29, starting two. He wasn’t even playing in the Crew’s reserve matches, which probably isn’t surprising given the scathing appraisal he received from coach Robert Warzycha in November. Warzycha said then: “He needs to find out how to be a professional player because he’s not.”

Horton saw one minute of action in an MLS game in 2011 and didn’t get on the field in 2012 or 2013.

Jason Kipnis is hitting to the opposite field the way he did when he first came up with the Indians two years ago, and the results are dramatic.

After a slow start this season, the former Clipper is batting .405 (32 for 79) during June with three home runs and 19 RBI. He did that while hitting .272 with seven home runs and 19 RBI in 136 at-bats during his rookie season in 2011, but got away from it last season (.257, 14 HR, 76 RBI in 591 at-bats).

Kipnis is up to .288 for the season now, which Tribe manager Terry Francona attributes in part to the tremendous balance the Cleveland second baseman has at the plate. Francona also noted that Kipnis is much stronger than people think.

The University of Cincinnati’s board of trustees gave the go-ahead on an $80 million to $85 million renovation of Nippert Stadium that will increase the seating from 35,000 to 40,000 and add a new press box, suites, club seats, patio suites and loge boxes. Concourses, bathrooms and concession stands will be renovated, with work to be completed by the 2015 season.

It’s possible that all 2014 home games will need to be moved because of the construction. The school has used Paul Brown Stadium as an alternate site for home games, but no decision has been made in this case.

After Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany announced the league’s new tie-ins with the Holiday Bowl and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl this week, he also all but confirmed plans to hook up with a new bowl game in Detroit.

Ford Field and the Detroit Lions are attempting to create a bowl to partner with the Big Ten that will replace the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. ESPN reported that it will feature Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference teams. The Little Caesars matched a Big Ten team against one from the Mid-American Conference when a Big Ten team was available.

When asked about the possibility of a pact with a Detroit bowl, Delany said: “I would say we’re not ready to announce, but you’re in the right area.”

Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.

bhunter@dispatch.com

@dailyhunter

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