Skip to content

Sophomore season was right call for maturing Jared Sullinger

Mar 24, 2012, 11:24 PM EDT

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Ohio State v Syracuse Getty Images

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

Latest Posts
  1. Nevada lands transfer forward from the Ivy League

    May 22, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    image Getty Images

    Nevada landed an impact transfer that could help at guard after next season.

  2. Arizona announces 2015-16 non-conference schedule

    May 22, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Arizona will have some intriguing home-and-home games to go along with an in-season tournament.

  3. Report: Cliff Alexander opens up on his suspension at Kansas

    May 22, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Cliff Alexander might have returned for his sophomore season if the NCAA had not been involved.

  4. Kentucky promotes former Auburn coach to assistant coach

    May 22, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT

    Tony Barbee AP

    Kentucky promoted a familiar face for the open assistant spot.

  5. Class of 2016 forward decommits from Nebraska

    May 22, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT

    keanu pinder

    Nebraska loses a commitment who could be headed elsewhere soon.

  6. Georgia, Mark Fox agree to contract extension through 2020

    May 22, 2015, 4:27 PM EDT

    Mark Fox AP

    Fox has led the Bulldogs to two NCAA tournament appearances in his six years as head coach, including last season’s 21-win team.

  7. Former Bradley guard to complete eligibility at Rutgers

    May 22, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT

    Darius Carter, Zach Brown, Omari Grier AP

    The Rutgers perimeter rotation may be crowded, but there’s plenty of room for contributions as the team won just ten games last season.

  8. North Carolina announces receipt of Notice of Allegations from NCAA

    May 22, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    UNC now has 90 days to craft a response to the NCAA’s allegations.

  9. Four-star 2016 power forward commits to UConn

    May 22, 2015, 12:05 PM EDT

    (AP) AP

    This isn’t the only addition UConn hopes to make to the 2016 class in the very near future.

  10. Duke, Louisville and Kansas among Kentucky’s non-conference opponents

    May 22, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The Wildcats will also take on Arizona State, UCLA and Ohio State in non-conference play.

  11. VCU hopes to regain year of eligibility for junior college transfer

    May 22, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwi3otuyzgqyymy0yzdhm2mzntk2mzg5zmrlnzczm2vm AP

    Mohamed and Bakersfield big man Aly Ahmed argued in 2013 that bad advice led to them being ruled ineligible that season at Houston and Bakersfield, respectively.

  12. 6-foot-10 power forward becomes Virginia’s fourth 2016 commitment

    May 21, 2015, 10:40 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    The slender forward joins Sacha Killeya-Jones, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy in Virginia’s 2016 haul.

  13. Power forward becomes Texas Tech’s fourth 2015 commitment

    May 21, 2015, 9:35 PM EDT

    2014 Adidas Nations Getty Images

    Davis joins grassroots teammate C.J. Williamson Jr. in Texas Tech’s 2015 recruiting haul.

  14. North Carolina’s Roy Williams discusses impact of NCAA investigation on recruiting

    May 21, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    UNC fell short in the race for Brandon Ingram, and the investigation was a big reason why.

  15. Matchups for Basketball Hall of Fame Classic announced

    May 21, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    John Calipari will coach against former assistant Orlando Antigua November 27 in Miami.

  16. Georgia Tech lands second graduate student in former UALR forward

    May 21, 2015, 6:35 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    The Jonesboro, Georgia native averaged 11.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game as a redshirt junior at UALR.

  17. Sports book lists Maryland as early favorite to win national title

    May 21, 2015, 4:58 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Last spring Mark Turgeon was seen by some as being on the “hot seat.” This spring, one sports book believes he’s got the early favorite to win the national title in 2016.

  18. John Calipari is selling his program when he says national title isn’t a goal

    May 21, 2015, 2:09 PM EDT

    150521calipari Getty Images

    Cal is always selling his program, and his latest viral quote is no different.