Mar 24, 2012, 11:24 PM EST
BOSTON – When Jared Sullinger signed on to play college basketball for Ohio State, he gave the Buckeyes a skilled big man; a frontcourt anchor who was a consensus top five player from the class of 2010.
Immediately the most talented player on the team, the humble and personable Sullinger did his best not to step on anybody’s toes.
“He blended in,” said Ohio State assistant coach Jeff Boals. “When he came in as a freshman, he followed, he listened, he didn’t have that superstar ego mentality, and that really set the tone for the whole year.”
As the season moved along it was clear that Sullinger was, in fact, one of the more talented college basketball back-to-the-basket players in recent memory, leading the Big Ten Conference in rebounding and finishing seventh in scoring.
So naturally, when Sullinger decided to return to college instead of declare for the NBA Draft, it raised more red flags than praise in basketball circles.
In his sophomore campaign, Sullinger by no means breezed through the competition.
He faced double teams, he faced a rough February, he even faced a three-headed green monster of Michigan State’s Draymond Green, Adreian Payne, and Derrick Nix that gave him fits — all which contributed to fairly similar numbers from his freshman season.
But he also led his team to the Final Four, and that is why he came back to Columbus for a second season.
You can say what you want about Jared Sullinger. You may think his decision to come back to school may have cost him money, may have hurt his NBA Draft stock, may have even changed the college basketball fan’s perception of how good he really was.
Whatever you think, don’t for a second think it bothers him.
If anything, it motivates him.
“I appreciate everyone that doubted this basketball team,” said Sullinger with a grin following tonight’s Elite Eight victory over Syracuse. “We heard negative comments, and I want to thank y’all because through all the adversity, we constantly pushed through that. I’m so proud of these guys.”
Despite foul trouble that forced the big man to sit out for 14 of the game’s first 20-minutes, Sullinger responded to score 15 of his 19 points in the second half to lead the Buckeyes to their 10th Final Four appearance in program history.
In the process, he was named East Region Most Outstanding Player.
Just like what we saw from him during a demanding schedule, Sullinger showed he’s someone you may be able to hold down for a period of time – someone you may be able to bend – but rarely can you do it for an entire game. The kid won’t break. He just grinds and goes to work down low until he gets what he wants.
“He’s taken a pounding all year, but he’s responded great,” said Boals. “Even in practice, we would purposely not call fouls to let him get beat on. There was a point in the season where he was getting frustrated and we sat him down and showed him a few things on tape. And ever since that, he’s taken off.”
So now with the regionals in the rear view, the Buckeyes must continue with their progression through the field of 68.
While the Final Four is an excellent accomplishment for this team, it by no means should feel like the end. This was a pre-season No. 3 team in both the AP and Coaches Poll. Many people would expect the Buckeyes to still be standing this late in the season.
“Hopefully, it’s not our last game,” said Sullinger. “We’re not going down to New Orleans for a vacation.”
“This is a business trip.”
Follow Nick Fasulo on Twitter @billyedelinSBN
Dec 19, 2013, 2:53 AM EST
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Dec 19, 2013, 12:34 AM EST
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Dec 18, 2013, 11:01 PM EST
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Dec 18, 2013, 10:01 PM EST
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Dec 18, 2013, 9:32 PM EST
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Dec 18, 2013, 8:13 PM EST
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Dec 18, 2013, 6:53 PM EST
One of the most surprising scores on Tuesday night was Denver’s 90-62 pasting of Belmont at Magness Arena. The Bruins have wins over Indiana State and North Carolina to their credit, making the margin of defeat a surprise. But Joe Scott’s Pioneers, picked to finish second in the Summit League behind North Dakota State, have…
Dec 18, 2013, 5:35 PM EST
Now in his third season as head coach at his alma mater, Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew has led the Crusaders to 55 wins and two consecutive Horizon League regular season titles. The next step for Valparaiso would be to win the conference’s tournament title and thereby earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Valparaiso was…
Dec 18, 2013, 4:30 PM EST
Who is the best shooter in the country? It’s a tough question to answer, isn’t it? Does being a “shooter” simply mean merely being a high-level marksman from beyond the arc? Can a player who thrives in the mid-range but rarely ventures out into three-point land be eligible? How heavily should we be valuing stats like…
Dec 18, 2013, 3:30 PM EST
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Dec 18, 2013, 2:31 PM EST
On Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA announced that North Carolina guard Leslie McDonald had been cleared, effective immediately. He missed nine games and will have to pay $1,783 to the charity of his choice for receiving impressible benefits. Sources informed Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports McDonald was expected to be cleared, but the source was also said that P.J.…
Dec 18, 2013, 1:05 PM EST
Who wouldn’t love that matchup? Kansas vs. Wichita State in a three-game series, well unfortunately there is nothing in the works at the moment, despite a three-year offer Wichita State claims it proposed to Kansas, according to Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. Gregg Marshall said last week, he tried to get the Jayhawks…
Dec 18, 2013, 11:35 AM EST
Southern Illinois head coach Barry Hinson has been an overnight sensation with a six-minute postgame rant following his team’s 73-65 loss to Murray State on Tuesday night. He appeared on the second hour on the Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday morning to discuss the viral video. During the rant (can watch it here), which was mostly entertaining,…
Dec 18, 2013, 11:02 AM EST
Former Duke forward Alex Murphy is going to following in his older brother’s footsteps. On Tuesday night, following Providence’s 76-74 win over Yale, Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal reported that Murphy, a South Kingstown, R.I. native, had decided to join Florida, the same school his older brother Erik played four years for Billy Donovan, averaging 12.2…
Dec 18, 2013, 10:45 AM EST
If your team is getting blown out, and you get ejected, dunking over a 7-foot-1 center is probably the way to go out. Tuesday night, Florida State steamrolled Charlotte in a 106-62 win at home. With 14 minutes remaining in the game, it was already out of hand with the Seminoles leading 63-37. Charlotte junior…
Dec 18, 2013, 9:26 AM EST
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Dec 18, 2013, 2:09 AM EST
Southern Illinois head coach Barry Hinson delivered the press conference of the year after Tuesday night’s 73-65 loss to Murray State. Hinson, the second-year coach who is 16-25 with the Salukis, has his team off to a 2-8 start this season and is less than pleased about the state of his team. Fast forward to the…
Dec 18, 2013, 12:53 AM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: No. 16 Florida 77, No. 15 Memphis 75 The Gators looked like they would cruise in the final minutes of second half, but the Tigers charged back. Joe Jackson had a chance to tie, but could not convert Florida, finally healthy and still getting players back, are showing how impressive it…
Dec 18, 2013, 12:20 AM EST
New Mexico State held a 13-point halftime lead and nearly gave it away in the waning moments of the game, but Daniel Mullings block on Cullen Neal kept New Mexico from tying the game at 61 with 30 seconds to play. K.C. Ross-Miller would go to the line three times in the final seconds and…
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