Jared Sullinger, Professional

By DJ Byrnes on March 23, 2012 at 2:00p
RT @DrewUnga: They were going to call it "Beating a Dead Horse" but Luck stole the name. RT @NewYorkPost: MTV Confirms A Sixth Season For "Jersey Shore".Jared Sullinger, flexing on the naysayers and detractors.

The NCAA Peacekeepers would probably frown upon my usage of the word "professional" in regards to one of their "student-athletes", but my limited writing talents leave me without a better word to describe Jared Sullinger. There are others I could use -- bossman, for one -- but they don't encapsulate Ohio State's man in the middle entirely. 

My adoration for Sullinger's game started long before he dropped 23 points and 11 rebounds on Cincinnati's skulls last night in Boston. Hell, it started before he said he'd be coming back to try to win a national title after last year's Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky. Call it the "Having Satch Sullinger In Your Gene Pool" Principle, but I've always respected the way Sullinger goes about applying his game on the court.

Nobody will ever accuse me of liking college basketball, but from what I've seen of Ohio State's games this year, Sullinger hasn't been protected by the refs like he should be, which isn't surprising since college referring has traditionally been wretched. (Imagine if college refs were capable of faking competence for large swaths of the game, much like NBA refs do. Sullinger might average 20 free throws a game.)

I've heard it speculated Sullinger is playing through an injury this year. (He's averaging 17 points and 9 rebounds a game.) I have no clue about any of that, but it wouldn't surprise me because Jared Sullinger is a professional. He clocks in and goes to work. That's it.

This summer, NBA Lottery teams will pass over Jared Sullinger in the 2012 draft. That will be entirely acceptable, because Jared Sullinger won't be the best professional prospect in the 2012 NBA draft. Rather quickly, however, the names above Jared Sullinger's on that list will come off the board. I have no doubt somebody will mistakenly pass over Sullinger. Will it be for this year's version of Stromile Swift, who was unironically taken as the second pick in the 2000 NBA draft? I don't have those kind of answers yet. 

Jonathan Givony, the curator of the venerable DraftExpress.com, noted last night, NBA teams will have many reasons not to draft Jared Sullinger, and they'll all be wrong. Will he ever be the best player on NBA championship-winning team? Unless he grows seven inches, I don't think he ever will be. What I do think he will be, however, is a key-cog on a team capable of winning multiple championships.

RT @drewmagary: It's your rotting flesh, Larry. RT @kingsthings Don't you just hate it when there's a smell in your house and you can't find the cause?An unique basketball player who plays below the rim.

Does he still have some weight to lose? Sure, but look what an NBA regimen did to Kevin Love. Is he slow? Maybe, but his game isn't built on speed. His face-up game has improved this year, and his range is only going to expand as he grows stronger. The same handicaps Sullinger faced on a college basketball court will be more magnified on an NBA one, but I think Sullinger has the skill and the work-ethic to adapt as he always has done.

How isn't he, at worst, a fancier version of DeJuan Blair? And that dude didn't have any ACLs coming out of college (and still doesn't). Every team in the NBA passed on DeJuan until Gregg Popovich -- who knows a few things about building winning teams -- plucked him with a second round draft pick.

After winning the 2009 NBA championship, the Los Angeles Lakers basically traded their budding swingman, Trevor Ariza, for Ron Artest. Ariza, who provided numerous sparks en route to the title, has fallen into anonymity since being shipped out of Hollywood. (Artest, conversely, clinched the 2010 NBA title for the Lakers with this shot.) In the NBA, a lot of time it's about the right situation for guys.

In the right situation, Sullinger could be special. I'd love to see somebody like the Cavaliers take him in this year's draft. Playing with somebody like Kyrie Irving would only help him look better; and with the longer, more athletic Tristan Thompson at his back, I think Sullinger could be allowed to step outside and expand his offensive game. (It's something he'll have to do, and by all inclinations will do, to adapt in the NBA.)

DeShaun Thomas is the latest flavor for Buckeyes' faithful, and a large contingent of fans will always believe Aaron Craft walks on water, but in a season of such highs and lows, Sullinger has toiled away consistently. As the anchor of the country's best statistical defense, this season could have imploded like planets bereft of their sun if he had secured his NBA riches last year. 

Unless a national title is delivered to their doorsteps in the form of a $15.99 t-shirt they bought off Etsy, I'm sure some fans will always feel Jared Sullinger underachieved at Ohio State. (Imagine if Anthony Davis' unibrow gobbles up Sullinger's soul in the national title game? Oh, how the joyous naysayers will creep out from the woodwork then.)

He has fought off injury questions and shitty refeering, even being so much as spit on by opposing fans at one point; and Jared Sullinger has weathered the storm like the rock he is. NBA teams would be wise to examine the prospects they take over Jared Sullinger.


Comments Show All Comments

BuckeyeChief's picture

Kevin love is exactly who I think of when I think about Sully's pro prospects; I also think he's been fighting to get healthy/ not 100% this season...great article!

"2014 National Champions...deal with it!!!"

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

back spasms just don't go way, i wouldn't be surprised if he's been dinged up since december..


good write-up.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

RedStorm45's picture

hard to call him the "anchor" of the D (I get it, he plays the 5 spot) but it mostly starts with Craft.  His pressure makes the rest of the team look better defensively.

I'm not sure professionals get frustrated and whine about calls/no-calls, no matter how bad the officiating.

I agree with everything else.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

If you consider NBA players professionals, then yes, they whine and cry.

DJ Byrnes's picture

Aaron Craft is certainly an adept on-ball defender, but it's the center which sets the tone on defense, at least in my opinion.

Have you seen the refereeing this year? It's been especially abysmal. 

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

Dean's picture

"Will it be for this year's version of Stromile Swift, who was unironically taken as the second pick in the 2000 NBA draft?"


I love the idea of coaches ironically using their draft picks.  Josh McDaniels: Uber-hipster.

Buckman's picture

I like to believe that my best hits border on felonious assault.


RedStorm45's picture

Not arguing with that, but you just listed perimter players.

Anyway, my point is that the piece is portraying Sully as a "professional" because he "clocks in and goes about his business."  Professional from that standpoint that he does his work and doesn't complain, but he, perhaps more than anyone else in CBB, complains to the refs and is affected by their calls/non-calls.

Buckman's picture

Shaq did it too. 

I took the piece as him being a professional by the way he works hard every single day as a basketball player, regardless of the things he has gone through.

And just because you complain does not make you a professional.  Every professional in the world complains regardless of their profession.

I like to believe that my best hits border on felonious assault.


joel121270's picture

Sorry, but it's refereeing.

I see people correcting all the time so I figured I take my shot at it...good write up though.

LABuckeye's picture

I do it, too sometimes, but also know many people are annoyed by it. I thought that pic was pretty funny.

DJ Byrnes's picture

Thanks, the spell-check definitely caught that. I must have messed up the mouse-work on fixing it. 

Thank God there is a spell-check though, because I'm a notoriously awful speller. 

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

nickma71's picture

Speaking of bad officials....besides amature basketball, which should be very easy to call, the other oxygen thieves are NL Umps.

acBuckeye's picture

Since others have already done it on this thread..... it's amateur, just sayin.

Packer3Baller's picture

AMEN. I really hope Sully gets a chance to shine against Athony Davis and the punks from UK. That is a matchup I would pay big money to see.

If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?

btalbert25's picture

I'm looking forward to a Dieng/Davis rematch, assuming both teams make it that far.  Dieng is really becoming a great big man.  Some of those blocks he had last night were disgusting.

btalbert25's picture

it's a shame as well as Thomas and Sully are playing together, that neither will be back next year.  It would be great to hear a last minute ya know what, we're coming back to win it all AGAIN next year


Rather_Be_Golfing's picture

Finally an article I finally agree with 100%.  You get it.


Sully takes way too much heat on this site from fans.  Ignorant ones at best.  He is a great basketball player.  He will be solid at the next level.  In the right situation (like the Cavs) he will blossom.  He needs someone to set the table for him.


The reasons are obvious why he doesn't get the play on sites.  He plays closer to the ground.  Is not flashy.  He actually can play D when he wants to.  My argument would be he has not let it hang out on D as he picks up fouls breathing wrong on players.  If he played for Duke or NC he would be celebrated like Elton Brand or Tyler H.  And he would get so many calls that he would easily average 22 to 23 points per game.


Anyway, great article.  We will be cutting down the nets and heading to the FF after tomorrow.  I like our match up.  Sully and DT will feast on that zone.  And the Cuse will not just walk in to the basket as we actually do play solid man to man unlike Wisky.


Go Bucks

andyr78's picture

I for one will be happy when Sully and Thomas go pro.  Last nights game was one of the only times I can remember them actually playing as a team.  Sully wasn't trying to shoot over 3 defenders.  He plays in the Big Ten, those calls have never been made.  I have been very frustrated seeing him cry to the refs when he should be running back on defense.  Without Aaron Craft this team is not in the Elite 8.

3cent's picture

Maybe Sully would not try to shoot over 3 defenders if he had a reliable guard he could pass it back out to, when that guard is unguarded, but wouldnt brick so much like Craft does on wide open shots.

RBuck's picture

This team wouldn't even be .500 without Sully or Thomas. I sure as hell won't be glad when the BasketBucks' 2 best players are gone.

Long live the southend.

ARMYBUCK's picture

@ANDYR78,  I cant say that Ill be happy when they leave but I agree 100% with your assessment they would'nt be in the Elite 8 without Craft!  I dont think they make it past the Zags for that matter.  As for how good he can be at the next level with a good facilitator I think people are selling Craft short in regards to that end of the floor too.

3cent's picture

I don't understand all this Craft infatuation. Yes, he is a good defender (even though I think he gets away with a lot of fouls).But he is terrible on the offensive end; he can't shoot, turns the ball over too much, and sucks at free throws...... If it wasn't for Thomas and Sullinger, you know the actual scorerers, we wouldn't be in the elite 8. I guess you guys will get your wish and see next year when this Craft led team is either playing in the NIT or barely makes it in the NCAA tourney before getting bounced in the first round.

VestedInterest's picture

Uhh, how it is that one can downplay what Craft does defensively is beyond me. His tenacity literally disrupts the flow of the oppositions offense to the point of hilarity at times. He is also not horrible offensively. He has games where his matchup is better than others, he drives to exploit that when possible, and no, he's no offensive juggernaut. He's going to get 7-12 regularly. When was the last time "his guy" scored at or above his average? I rest my case.

CALPOPPY's picture

Andy and Army, I agree that we wouldn't be in the elite 8 without Craft...but we would be there without Sully or Thomas either. We need all these guys playing well. Like was posted last week, Craft may be leading this team. But you take any of these three out, or have subpar games, and we don't beat Gonzaga and Cincy would have been tough.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

ARMYBUCK's picture

@ CALPOPPY, I couldnt agree more.  I simply agreed with ANDY when he said they wouldnt be here without Craft.  I guess I should have said something closer to what you said because I do believe if you take any one of those three out of the equation and the Bucks are not in the Tourney at this point.  Good Call.

osubuckeye4life's picture

My love of Sully started on that faithful Thursday night on December 17, 2009.

The Findlay Prep Pilots from Las Vegas, NV came into Otterbien college's Rike center undefeated.

The number one high school boys team in the nation was riding a 45 game winning streak.

A stacked lineup with future stars like Cory Joseph(Texas now with Spurs), Tristan Thompson(Texas now with Cavs), and Jabari Brown(first Oregon later Mizzu).

They faced Northalnd High School and a player by the name of Jared Sullinger.

Sully scored 32 of the teams 53 points, snagged 17 rebs, and drained all 10 of his free throws!

Northland won 53-52.

It was at the point I was conveinced Sully would do great things at OSU. 

He's had some ups and downs but overall he's been a beast. 

He's definitely a key cog for OSU. 

I could definitely see him becoming like Kevin Love in the NBA. 


DJ Byrnes's picture

I remember watching that, because my friend was explaining to me how Findlay High School is basically a traveling basketball team. Come to think, it may have been the first time I ever watched Sullinger. 

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

andyr78's picture

I understand that without Sully, Thomas, or Craft this team would not be where they are now.  I just get tired of hearing everyone in the media giving all the attention to one player on the team.  Even in today's win over Syracuse, he had several times he tried to take on 2-3 defenders and had teammates standing wide open.  He almost cost the Buckeyes the game today with his lack of defense because he was afraid of picking up another foul.  I still am not 100% convinced Sully will go pro after this season.