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Although he's been one of college basketball's most productive players over the past two seasons, it appears that Jared Sullinger is entering the draft one year too late.
After the Buckeyes lost to the Kentucky Wildcats in last year's Elite 8, nobody believed Sullinger when he said he'd return to Ohio State for his sophomore season. However, "Sully" stayed true to his word and passed up being a likely top-ten selection.
Jason McIntyre at The Big Lead gave a brilliant summary of the dramatic shift in Sullinger's draft stock, and he estimates that Sullinger would have been the No. 6 overall pick had he come out last year.
Sullinger failed to show significant improvement following his freshman season, as inconsistency and concerns about his motor plagued his sophomore campaign. While he'd often show up and dominate against stiff competition, he was also occasionally outplayed by lesser-skilled post players.
Although his stock is much lower now than it was a year ago, Sullinger registered averages of at least 17 points and nine rebounds in each of his two seasons at Ohio State.
At the NBA level, teams want their post players to be explosive and have the ability to consistently finish above the rim. That's certainly not the case with Sullinger, as he often relies on touch to score when contested around the basket.
On top of having a perceived lack of athleticism for the position, there are serious concerns about the health of Sullinger's back. According to a tweet from Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, the state of his back has caused the Warriors to remove Sullinger from their draft board.
With concerns about Sullinger's durability and ability as a professional player moving forward, it remains a possibility that he could fall out of the first round entirely. If that's the case, a team could find Sullinger to be a second round steal even if he has a shortened NBA career.
No matter when he comes off the board on Thursday, Sullinger likely cost himself, financially and otherwise, by not entering the draft last year.