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The Ghost of Greg Oden Haunting NBA Hopeful Jared Sullinger

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 31:  Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts after the Buckeyes lose to the Kansas Jayhawks 64-62 during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on March 31, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Luke JohnsonContributor IIIJune 19, 2012

Oh boy. Oh boy. Here we go again.

Another great talent with poise and NBA-ready foot work around the rim has been haunted with the angry ghost of Greg Oden. The former No. 1 draft pick in 2007 out of Ohio State hasn't found his footing in an NBA uniform.

Might I remind you Oden was the heir apparent to Bill Russell and a pick above the formidably freakish, Kevin Durant. But knee issues have belittled the one-and-done 7'0" college star to bench warming and wishing, while Durant carries the NBA as a whole on his bone-thin shoulders.

And now, just a month out of the NBA draft, another soft tempered, smooth as silk big man and Buckeye, Jared Sullinger, has been red flagged with health concerns.

According to Chad Ford of ESPN, doctors have found a lingering back issue, to be more than just growing pains. And while the 20-year-old, 6'8", 270-pound big man's father swears the back issues aren't serious, the rest of the league is left to wonder whether or not Sullinger will be more bust than bang in an NBA uniform.

Projected as a lottery pick, the two-time All-American averaged 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds on 53.0 percent shooting in his two-year collegiate career. Sullinger improved his defensive footwork after his freshman season, lowering foul trouble and increasing minutes on the floor.

A bit undersized with average explosiveness around the rim, the big man also improved his step out game, hitting on 40 percent of his three-point attempts his sophomore season.

It was fair to say Sullinger wasn't an NBA superstar in the making.

But what he was/is a talent with the right team-oriented temperament to make a splash right away in the NBA. His comparisons include current Hawk, Al Horford, or a more explosive version of Emeka Okafor. And that might be the very thing that saves him.

The only difference between Oden and Sullinger is found in their pre-NBA comparisons.

Oden was supposed to be the man who took the mantel from Dwight Howard and brought to memory former legend, Bill Russell. He was picked by a Trail Blazer team, that was already bolstered by the likes of Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, to be the face of their franchise.

Sullinger, on the other hand, had recently slipped to the latter half of the lottery because of his average athleticism.  A team with the guts to grab him in the late-teens or somewhere in the early to mid-twenties could have themselves a game changing diamond in the rough.

Is the Buckeye curse found in the drinking water? Or is it simply, poor music taste?

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