Skip to content

Player of the Year no longer just the Jimmer-Kemba Show

Jan 22, 2011, 5:26 PM EST

110122-sullinger_320w

Jared Sullinger did more than power No. 1 Ohio State past No. 23 Illinois on Saturday. The massive power forward firmly entrenched himself in the national Player of the Year discussion as well.

A 27-point, 16-rebound performance – all on national TV – helped the Buckeyes (20-0) avoid their first loss of the season, at one of the Big Ten’s toughest venues, no less.

“I felt like Jared was pretty good today,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said afterward. “That was a joke — he was awesome.”

Until now, much of the national attention revolved around BYU senior guard Jimmer Fredette – he of the ridiculous shooting range – and Connecticut senior Kemba Walker – he of the last-second heroics. They’re 1-2 nationally in scoring, jaw-dropping plays and hyperbole.

Conversely, Sullinger, the Buckeyes’ 6-foot-9, 280-pound freshman, is an overpowering presence down low, a player who feasts on opposing post players and compiles double-doubles (10 through 20 games), not highlight-reel plays. That’s his genius – he’s a force down low and one that must be seen in entire games in order to be properly appreciated. (Or you could just take a look at his stats. They’ll impress casual fans and tempo-free advocates.)

“He’s tough,” Illinois forward Mike Davis said afterward. “He’s bigger than I thought he was.”

But that’s life for a traditional post player in the college game – the guards usually grab all the attention. But Sullinger now has the added bonus of playing for an unbeaten team that’s atop the rankings. That’s something Fredette and Walker can’t match, no matter how many points they score.

When you’re the best player on the nation’s No. 1 team, you can’t help but earn Player of the Year plaudits. If Sullinger does more of the same Tuesday against Purdue – and their stellar center, JaJaun Johnson – he’ll only boost his rep even more.

“He’s a special young man,” Matta said. “His humility — he’s all about winning.”

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Latest Posts
  1. Cincinnati guard granted release; will likely be a graduate transfer

    Mar 3, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Cincinnati could be losing an experienced guard for next season.

  2. Jahlil Okafor, D’Angelo Russell among 10 finalists for Wayman Tisdale Award as nation’s best freshman

    Mar 3, 2015, 6:00 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    A lot of productive players on the Wayman Tisdale Award finalist list, led by Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell.

  3. America East Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 3, 2015, 4:52 PM EST

    AP AP

    Albany is looking for its third NCAA tournament appearance in as many years. Stony Brook is attempting to once again get over that conference tournament hump.

  4. Player of the Year Power Rankings: It’s Frank Kaminsky’s award to win

    Mar 3, 2015, 3:47 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Kaminsky has all but locked up the award in my mind.

  5. Ohio Valley Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 3, 2015, 2:32 PM EST

    Murray State's Cameron Payne (AP) AP

    Murray State rolled through the OVC unbeaten and enters the conference tournament as the heavy favorite.

  6. Duke AD defends handling of allegations against Rasheed Sulaimon

    Mar 3, 2015, 1:36 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Rasheed Sulaimon was reportedly publicly accused of sexual assault.

  7. Butler gets starting forward back from broken hand

    Mar 3, 2015, 12:54 PM EST

    Villanova v Butler Getty Images

    Andrew Chrabascz had missed the last two weeks with a broken hand

  8. Big South Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 3, 2015, 12:05 PM EST

    John Brown Getty Images) Getty Images

    A three-game margin separated the top seven teams, so don’t be surprised if things don’t go according to the seeds in Conway, South Carolina.

  9. Dan Patrick Show: Frank Kaminsky joins to talk about his senior year (VIDEO)

    Mar 3, 2015, 11:42 AM EST

    Frank Kaminsky, David Rivers, Walter Pitchford AP

    The National Player of the Year talks hoops, soccer and senior years.

  10. ‘I Hate Christian Laettner’ trailer released (VIDEO)

    Mar 3, 2015, 10:12 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Last year, the college hoops 30 for 30 was “Requiem for the Big East”.

  11. NEC Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 3, 2015, 9:15 AM EST

    Jalen Cannon (AP Photo) Jalen Cannon (AP Photo)

    Can St. Francis (NY) land their first-ever NCAA tournament berth?

  12. Seton Hall adds three-star wing commitment for 2015 class

    Mar 2, 2015, 8:30 PM EST

    AP Photo AP

    Seton Hall added to its 2015 recruiting haul on Monday.

  13. Alabama forward out for the season with injury

    Mar 2, 2015, 7:20 PM EST

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Alabama loses another starter as the regular season winds down.

  14. Patriot League Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 2, 2015, 6:19 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Bucknell will be looking to make their third NCAA tournament appearance under Dave Paulsen.

  15. Pregame Shootaround: Three great games on TV tonight

    Mar 2, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    Buddy Hield AP

    The Big 12 and the ACC will both be in action.