Taking his act overseas, Jared Sullinger more than held his own though his US team struggled in the World Basketball Tournament losing three of the five games played in France.
The event is considered to be one of the more legit junior tournaments in the world and the highlight of the week involved Sullinger going head to head in Team USA's second game against 7 footer Donatas Motiejunas of Lithuania. Motiejunas is projected as a top 10 pick in the 2010 NBA draft and though he led his team to a 110-107 victory over the Americans, Sullinger did his part totaling 21 points and 9 boards.
In the opening game a day earlier, Sullinger recorded 21 points and 12 boards in a loss to Puerto Rico. Team USA would lose again on Friday - this time to Australia - as Sullinger had his most lackluster effort notching just 9 points and 10 boards. Looking to right the ship, the Americans finished the tournament with back to back wins against Canada and France. Sullinger posted double-doubles in both W's going for 16 and 13 against America's Hat before capping the tournament with a 19 and 11 performance as the US dropped France 85-84.
Sullinger averaged 17.2 points and 11.0 boards in the five games and now takes his show to the NBAPA Top 100 Camp slated to begin Wednesday in Charlottesville, Virginia. Bob Baptist notes four of Matta's five 2010 recruits have been invited (Sully, DeShaun Thomas, Lenzelle Smith and Craft) as has Adreian Payne, whom Thad Matta still has designs on possibly adding to the class assuming scholly's are freed by Turner and possibly Buford turning pro.
Continuing on the prep hoops front, there's no end in sight to the growing trend of offering scholly's to freshman in hopes of locking up a projected future star that might also help attract fellow prep stars. A recent story on Bucknuts shows a couple of the top 10 Ohio freshmen, as rated by Ohio High Magazine, have already given verbals. The top rated freshman, Elijah Macon of Marion-Franklin committed to Chuggins and the Mountaineers over the weekend while UC picked up a commitment from Chane Behanan of Cincinnati Aiken.
I don't personally have a problem with this strategy considering the impact one player can have on a hoops team but I can't help but wonder (as Jeff Rapp does in the article) how many more Cameron Wright situations will arise as a result of this tactic? Not all guys dominating in the 9th grade can effectively navigate the landmines associated with possible NBA riches down the road not to mention some players may simply not improve at the same rate as others making them less desirable when it comes for the school to follow through on their commitment to take the player. What's your stance on this? Any issue with offering verbals as early as the 8th grade? If a school does this, should both they and the player be obligated to follow through years later?
Switching to the NBA, there's been a lot of noise discussing whether or not the real BJ Mullens tweeted that the Bulls guaranteed they'll take him with the 16th pick. Sam Smith says he's convinced that's not the case but it hasn't stopped Mullens from canceling workouts going forward which is a move typically reserved for guys have who nothing left to prove thanks to an assumption of their draft spot being solidified. I guess we'll find out June 25th.