I think you can throw talented incoming freshmen Brandon Knight, Kyrie Irving, Josh Selby, and Eric Kanter in a hat and then draw to see which freshman is going to have more of an impact on his respective team next season.
Let’s face it, they’re all good.
But if you ask most college basketball junkies, including our resident hoops fiend, ballerjunkie, they’d tell you Harrison Barnes is clearly the best incoming freshman in this unbelievably talented 2010 class.
Sorry to mix sports euphemisms, but not so fast my friends. I think Jared Sullinger can be the crème de la crème of impact freshman when you combine the skills he’ll bring to the table with the supporting cast the Ohio State Buckeyes will provide him with when he arrives on campus next fall.
Firstly, the scouting report.
Sullinger is a 6′8″ man-mountain who has an NBA-ready body right now. Jared is certainly a wide body in every sense of the term. Those physical attributes alone allow him to carve out space while posting up or battling on the glass. If we stopped right there, the young cat would be a formidable force based on physicality alone.
But physicality is just the tip of the iceberg.
The big man, or "big ‘un" as we call ‘em here in Texas, has the holy grail of skills when it comes to post play. Call it the colossal combo or the dynamic duo of big man traits, but Sullinger has traits that would make Pete Newell gush with compliments.
Hands and feet.
Sullinger has got terrific hands and great feet. And not just for a big man, but for any player. In fact, it’s nearly incomprehensible for such a big man to be able to catch and move as well as Jared does time and time again.
Watch the video below and you’ll see the big man make tough catches in traffic, navigate around the goal, and even face up and power dribble by smaller defenders.
Sullinger is also blessed with feathery soft touch, evidenced by the aforementioned highlights that display mid-range game for days…floaters, pull-ups, half hooks, you name it, and the big fella does it.
But for me, the most impressive thing about Jared Sullinger’s game in this film is his body control, especially considering he’s such a big man. Point blank, the kid never even comes close to charging. He slides by defenders when facing up and drop-steps around, not through opposing posts on the low block.
The restraint the big man shows by simply not trying to overpower defenders is striking in such a young player. Such discipline and patience will serve him well because he’s likely going to be the biggest and strongest player on the floor in virtually every game.
Going over or through smaller players will always be a temptation for a big man, but Jared has already shown the maturity necessary to not take the easy way out by trying to overpower defenders. This maturity will keep him on the floor and out of foul trouble in college.
As for being a Buckeye in 2010, there isn’t a better team or situation out there to enhance JS’s talents and skills.
The Buckeyes will surround him with talented and experienced perimeter players in Lighty, Buford, and Diebler. Throw in Coach Matta, a man that’s had tremendous success with young post players, and you have a recipe for success for a talented young post.
It’s a recipe that means Sullinger will have an instant impact on the college basketball landscape. Perhaps the biggest impact.
Look for Jared Sullinger to simply dominate next season and be one of the most important freshman players as we march to March in 2011.
Kevin Berger writes the leading college hoops blog March To March .
Follow him on Twitter: @MarchToMarch