We praise players for staying more than just one season in college basketball. However, there’s also a proverbial notion that if you stay long enough, scouts have more time to break your game down and expose you for what you can’t do, rather than for what you can.
For Jared Sullinger, he may have missed his own train…one year too late.
As a freshman at Ohio State in 2010-11, Sullinger’s talents and prospects made noise that echoed around the country. His 17.2 PPG and 10.2 RPG averages earned him Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, as well as a spot on the First Team All Big Ten squad. Sullinger’s 54 percent shooting from the floor also turned heads as he proved that he was capable of taking high-percentage shots and making them.
When Sullinger made the decision to return for his sophomore season, his stock started falling throughout the 2011-12 campaign. His averages remained level compared to his freshman year (17.3 PPG, 9.3 RPG), but he missed two games due to back spasms.
After Ohio State’s season came to an end at the Final Four, Sullinger’s college career also came to an end when he declared for the NBA draft. However, his prospects are changing and looking bleak.
Sullinger was medically red flagged during a draft combine for the same back problems that forced him to sit during the college season. If that wasn’t enough to get stock to drop, Sullinger still carries perceived flaws by NBA scouts: He still lacks explosiveness when jumping. He is too small to play center, but not physical enough to match up to NBA power forwards. Of course, there are obvious concerns about his conditioning and durability, and being medically red flagged exacerbates the issue.
In the end, everything could still work out for Sullinger. He could go later in the first round, compared to where pundits originally slotted him in the top 10. He could go to an NBA team with less expectations, get healthier, develop his game, find a role and thrive.
However, Sullinger was tabbed as a high lottery pick nearly two years ago, expected to come onto the NBA scene and establish himself as a household name.
It’s amazing how far away we are from that now.