Suddenly Historic

By Johnny Ginter on December 10, 2010 at 1:00p

Jared Sullinger had a rough day yesterday. He attended the funeral visitation of one of his most beloved relatives, and agonized over the decision to miss valuable game prep time to do so. In the end though, it turned out that Sully was able to do his Uncle Brief proud by playing through the hurt and putting up a truly historic night for the Ohio State Buckeyes. It has been mentioned several times that his 40 points are a record for a freshman, but a deeper look reveals that Sullinger's feat is actually even more astonishing than that: he now is one of just seven players in the history of Ohio State basketball to ever score 40 or more points in a single game.

Furthermore, he's the first player to pull this off since Dennis Hopson in 1985. That's right, Jared Sullinger wasn't even born the last time this happened. In the time since then OSU basketball has seen some very prolific scorers walk into campus, including Michael Redd, Evan Turner, and the like, but not one of them was able to reach 40 points in a game.

All of this is great, but what really gets me excited is that we have seen hints from Sully that he might be the throwbackiest of throwbacks; a player whose inside scoring and presence could remind us of some of the big men from the golden period of Ohio State basketball, men who he now stands side by side with on that list of seven players who set the net on fire.

Today I want to take a short look at two of these guys, Centers Jerry Lucas and Gary Bradds. Maybe, like me, you'll see some of the same qualities that they had reflected in young Mr. Sullinger.

Jerry Lucas

When Jerry Lucas was in high school during the 1950's, he was generally considered the best basketball player in the state of Ohio, if not the entire country. He set record after record playing for the Middletown Middies, and when he chose Ohio State to attend college, he spearheaded a recruiting class that included John Havlicek, Bobby Knight, and Mel Nowell. That group would go on to make the NCAA finals in three consecutive years, winning in 1960. Always an excellent student, he got his Bachelor degree in three years and completed post secondary work while still an undergrad. Lucas would go on the have an incredible NBA career, and is rightfully a member of the NBA Hall of Fame.

Lucas was a fairly big man for his time, at 6 feet 8 inches, but he was an excellent shooter from anywhere on the court. What really made him such a force, however, was his rebounding. During the 1959-60 season he averaged 17 rebounds a game, and was a very physical inside presence when the game called for it. TV commentators have praised Sully for having a knack for getting to the ball, and if he can develop his inside/outside game in the same way that Lucas did, he could become as unstoppable every night as he was on Thursday.

Gary Bradds

I'm 25. People from my generation or younger who are in to OSU basketball probably have at least a passing knowledge of Havlicek, Lucas, Knight, and so on. But one guy who I would assume most of us know very little about is Gary Bradds. Which is unfortunate, because the guy was a beast. Born in Jamestown, Ohio, Bradds took over Lucas' position when he graduated, and proved to be just as tough and valuable as his predecessor. Not the most powerful guy at only 180 pounds, Bradds' stat lines still look absolutely absurd even today: averaged over 30 points per game as a senior. Six straight 40+ point games. School record (that still stands today) 49 points against Illinois. Averaged over 13 rebounds per game as a junior and senior. In 1963 and 1964 he was the Big Ten MVP and an All-American.

Bradds did most of his damage at the top of the key, but his huge rebound total attests to his toughness. What I find interesting is that while many might have been dismissive of Bradds because of his lack of size, Jared Sullinger was accused of being soft from some outlets before the season began for having too much size. I am a huge fan of watching players turn expectations from others on their ear, and I think I would've gotten just as big a kick watching Bradds tough it out inside as I do watching Sully.

Of course, it would be some pretty gnarly hyperbole to say that Jared Sullinger is even in the same ballpark as Lucas and Bradds at this point in his very young career. In fact, given that it's almost certain he'll depart for the NBA after this season, it's hard to say if he'll ever be mentioned in the same breath as two players who had several years to dazzle Columbus basketball fans. But what Sully did last night forces a comparison between himself and those other players because of the truly historical nature of scoring 40 points in an Ohio State uniform. Time will tell if the big man from Northland can keep it up, but for now I hope he can take some time to sit back and consider just how cool it is to even be in the same conversation as two guys who have their numbers hanging from the rafters in the Schott.


Comments Show All Comments

tampa buckeye's picture

Jay burson never got 40? He used to light it up.  I remember he had 37 against florida one year.  Jimmy Jackson could light it up i would think he came close to 40. I know in the pros he hit for 50 with the mavs.

If sully hits his free throws he gets 50

Buckeye Scottie's picture

Is his real name, Jarden?  If not, definitely out of hound that we can't get the name right of arguably one of the 7 best individual performances in OSU BBall history...

Jason Priestas's picture

Ha - fixed. Thanks for the heads-up.

Johnny Ginter's picture

yikes, that's my bad, sorry about that. that's what i get for writing at 2:30 am

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

what was that phrase that was used a game or three ago?  a commentator said that he was scoring "man buckets"?  was that it?

iball's picture

The paint program alteration of Sully's pic wreaks of awesome. That's what sets 11w aside from the rest, that right there son.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Just heard Sully's pops on the fan, love that dude.

nickma71's picture

I would think Bowsher's Dennis Hopson who averaged over 30 and led the nation his senior season could do it. But I wasn't keeping track.

Johnny Ginter's picture

hopson was indeed one of those seven dudes

gravey's picture

Why were there so few fans at the Schott?  Watched the game and couldn't believe the number of empty seats.  I know it was IUPUI, but you'd think people would want to catch this team, and Sully in particular.  If I lived back in Cbus, I'd be there all the was pretty hard to get tix when I was a student there, and those teams weren't nearly as good.

Englighten me....

Cross Village's picture

Because of GREED.

St. John's was packed even in marginal seasons with loyal followers who loved Buckeye basketball.

When The Shot (sic) was created (at HUGE expense), the AD decided to blow off the loyal following in deference to making a ton of money by selling the new arena to fat corporate cats via seat licenses which priced the old following out.  So the first years of the Shot (sic) saw the loyal followers stuck in the rafters of a half empty arena with the lower level of PSL seats empty.   When they went down to try to get close to the action and fill unused seats and Cheer, the Shot (sic) goons forbid them to use empty seats.  This went on for years and the loyal Buckeye followers eventually just left.   Now we see a # 2 team only drawing 11,000 people on a day when a city of more than a million has nothing else to do.

You get what you give and the Ohio State Athletic Department should be shamed and embarrassed. 


TLB's picture

Spot on.  Top level is not a good place to see a game from.

TLB's picture

See there, it isn't just me.

I don't listen to The Fan, does Hooley still have a radio show?

JakeBuckeye's picture

I know its not just you. It doesn't make it any less BULLSHIT. For the sake of Johnny not wanting me to, I won't say what I think of you, but you know damn well what it is. And I only currently say this because of what you said comparing Taylor Martinez, Terrelle Pryor, and Denard Robinson.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

The only thing he got wrong is that TP doesn't take accountability when he does all the time. Bruce wrote some BS to fan the flames when Boeckman got benched. I didn't even think about TP not mentioning anything about winning and his teammates for reasons for coming back. While I rarely agree with Bruce he makes some valid points.

JakeBuckeye's picture

TP not mentioning anything about winning and his teammates for reasons for coming back.

He does mention winning and his teammates. All. The. Time. He beats that horse dead. How about you actually watch TP's pressers instead of believing the way writers spin things. It will be enlightening for you. You'll find that a lot of his statements that get spun negatively, such as "I'm a buckeye until I break all of the records", are said in a humorous and jokeful tone with a gentle smile on his face.

iball's picture

Yeah, TP is always giving cred to the o-line. He is a cocky kid and you can tell he has to constantly beat back the urge to be that, but he understands and does a good job.

Mixed feelings for me on Cam, on one hand I feel he is a whore and his dad is a pimp. Troy got 2 games for excepting $500 bucks and Cam doesn't even get a slap? On the other hand, his play on the field deserved the Heisman. This why I also feel Pete Rose belongs in the Hall. Its so obvious the NCAA didn't want to do anything to damage its' earning potential this Bowl season.

There really isn't a more corrupt governing body than the NCAA. They're scum.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I watch the pressers on ozone. I found nothing of what wrote enlightening btw. I know he has talked about his teammates but he didn't mention it when asked why he was returning. Did he? I think he mentions talking to Posey about it. I think iball hit the nail on the head, he has to force himself not to be a cocky punk (not iball's words). That's what bothers me about TP, saying the right things seems very forced. I think the TP "real fans" go out of their way to defend some of his comments and look at this through TP colored lenses. And they attack others who aren't blinded by their man crush.

IMO TP is trying hard to do and say the right things but he lets his emotions take over.

JakeBuckeye's picture

he has to force himself not to be a cocky punk (not iball's words).

I'd be willing to say that 80% of college football players on major teams (BCS) have to do this. Please don't use the word "punk" either. TP has never got into any trouble. Save that word for people who deserve it.

gwalther's picture

Wow. Completely and 100% agree with that article.

Class of 2008