Jared Sullinger: How NCAA Tournament Will Determine NBA Draft Stock

Justin KeithCorrespondent IMarch 14, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 09:  Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates during the game against the  Purdue Boilermakers during the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 9, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

What better place to showcase your NBA potential than in one of the most publicized events of the year?

Ohio State star Jared Sullinger decided to forgo the NBA after his freshman year to return to Ohio State and make a run at a National Championship. 

Although Sullinger could have been a top five pick in 2011 if he declared, the sophomore sensation may not have slipped down the board very far if he decided to come out after this season. 

During the 2011-2012 season with Ohio State, Sullinger averaged 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds a game, while also contributing 1.2 assists and steals per game. 

Despite having less potential than, say, Anthony Davis, Sullinger has an NBA-ready build as well as the strength to bang down low at the next level. 

Sullinger will have the perfect stage in which to lock himself in the top 10 in the upcoming NBA draft in June. 

Conversely, if Sullinger doesn't show up, it could prove to be costly. 

The risk that Sullinger took when he decided to return to Ohio State was the fact that experts pegged this season as the deepest draft in recent memory. 

NBA teams will have a ton of choices throughout the first round, making a big performance in the NCAA tournament a must for the Ohio State big man. 

Standing 6 foot 9 inches, Sullinger lacks the athleticism that some of his counterparts possess in this year's draft. 

During the tournament, he must show his ability to attack the glass, establish position down low and play with a physical presence. 

Sullinger will be playing against the best competition the NCAA has to offer in this tournament and by playing with an edge, he will be able to make up for his high-risk decision to come back to Ohio State and take his chances in the 2012 NBA Draft.