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Kam Craft: “A player that really impacts winning”

<p>Sophomore transfer guard Kam Craft played his first two years of college basketball as a Xavier University Musketeer.</p>

Sophomore transfer guard Kam Craft played his first two years of college basketball as a Xavier University Musketeer.

The Miami University RedHawks men’s basketball team continues to push forward each season under head coach Travis Steele. After back-to-back MAC tournament appearances, the program shows promise for the future.

With the RedHawks losing six players, Miami needs to replenish its bench with first-years and transfers. Steele has already started this process. On April 8, it was announced by Coach Travis Steele that the Miami RedHawks would be getting sophomore Kam Craft from the transfer portal. The 6 foot 6 inch, 211 pound guard is a familiar face for Steele, having played his first two years of college basketball as a Xavier University Musketeer. 

“I obviously committed to play for Coach Steele when he was at Xavier, and when it came time to make a move I was just most comfortable with him and what he saw for me in the future,” Craft said.

Craft attended Buffalo Grove High School in Chicago, Illinois. As a sophomore and junior, he averaged 23 points per game and 27 points per game respectively, earning all-state honors both years. During his high school career, he racked up an impressive 1,694 total points as a member of the Bison. He also played for the Chicago-based AAU program, Mean Streets.

Before college, Craft expressed leadership skills that helped him stand out on the court and propelled the team for coach Keith Peterson, Craft’s high school coach.  

“Kam was always a ‘lead by example’ guy,” Peterson said. “He was in the gym more than anyone, he worked as hard as anyone at practice and played as hard as anyone during the games. As he got older, he started to grow into his leadership role off the court.”

Craft became a leader at a time that the team needed it. Part of his high school career took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Peterson remembers how Craft kept the team moving at a difficult time. 

“His communication with the team and with me really helped to keep the team together,” Peterson said. “He made sure the team was moving in the same direction.”

Craft’s athletic prowess matched his focus on academics.

“Teachers would always reach out to me to tell me how great he was in class and couldn't believe that this hard-working, quiet kid in class was the same kid they saw on the court,” Peterson said. “Kam is a ‘grinder’ and will always find a way to be successful.” 

As a senior, Craft went down south to the Skill Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, where he averaged 21.3 points per game and was rated a four-star recruit and the 76th best player in the country by 247sports

In 2022, Craft was invited to participate in the Jordan Brand Classic, where he chipped in nine points and led his team with a plus-minus of seven. Charlotte Hornets guard Brandon Miller, Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George, Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II and more also played in that game.

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At the start of his college career at Xavier, Craft averaged 2.6 points per game and 1.5 rebounds. He scored a career-high 11 points with three three-pointers against the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions. However, he missed his sophomore season due to a surgery following a knee injury he suffered his first year.

Though he only spent two seasons as a Musketeer, Craft valued his time there.

“It was definitely a new experience learning college basketball, adjusting to the level of play in the Big East and playing for a coach like Coach Miller,” Craft said. “When I got hurt, that was the first time I’ve ever been  seriously injured, and I then had knee surgery, so that was a very tough process mentally and physically. [Leading] into my sophomore season, I had to redshirt because of my injury, so it just reshaped me as a person.”

Craft has a plethora of skills that will allow him to contribute on both sides of the ball for the RedHawks.

“I feel like I can be a versatile player offensively and defensively,” Craft said. “I can make tough shots off catch and shoot situations, make good passes and reads, play hard and just help the team win.”

Steele played a huge role in Craft’s decision to transfer to Miami. Craft committed to Xavier out of high school when Steele was the head coach. For both, having that previous experience was a huge draw when Craft was looking for prospective schools.

“Any time you get a kid entering the transfering portal, there’s that level of familiarity that’s huge,” Steele said. “He knows me, I know him. Knowing him since high school, that trust factor was already there.”

Steele believes that Craft has the ability to make a significant impact on the court in red and white. He knows Craft can excel offensively and defensively, and his ability to stretch the court gives the RedHawks an opportunity to push further into the MAC tournament than in recent years. 

Several months remain before the 2024-25 basketball season. In the meantime, Craft will continue to get accustomed to Oxford. Steele knows that Miami is fortunate to have him.

“He is a great fit for Miami academically, socially and athletically,” Steele said. “Kam has a gift to really score the basketball, and he can do it in a variety of ways. He is a player that really impacts winning.”