Sullinger Named to Wooden Award Ballot
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger, the reigning National Freshman of the Year, was named to the John R. Wooden Award ballot for the second-straight season on Tuesday.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Sullinger, who is in his second season at Ohio State, is one of 15 finalists for the award, which is given annually to the most outstanding player in college basketball.
A finalist a year ago, Sullinger averages 16.9 points and 9.3 rebounds, while having recorded 13 double-doubles in 2012. He is one of only two Big Ten players on the list, along with Michigan State’s Draymond Green, and Sullinger is the only player returning from last year’s Wooden Award All-American Team.
The award, which is named for legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, was established by the Los Angeles Athletic Club in 1976 and first awarded in 1977. Past honorees include Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Chris Mullin and David Robinson.
The award was not established until long after the college careers of Buckeye greats like Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek, but Ohio State does have one past winner in the history of the award. That went to former Buckeye Evan Turner, who was also the National Player of the Year during the 2009-10 season at Ohio State.
The award went to BYU guard Jimmer Fredette a year ago, but Sullinger was considered to be one of the top runner-ups, despite the fact he did not win the Player of the Year award in the Big Ten last season.
That went to Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson, and this year the award was given to Draymond Green, the Michigan State senior who averaged 16.2 points and a league-best 10.5 rebounds as the Spartans shared the regular-season title with Michigan and Ohio State.
Sporting News All-American
Along with being named as a finalist for the Wooden Award, Sullinger was also chosen as a 2012 Sporting News first-team All-American on Tuesday.
“No college player commanded more attention from opponents, and some of it was genuinely brutal,” said Sporting News staff writer Mike DeCourcy.
“Sullinger’s sophomore season wasn’t always a delight, but he continued to develop a greater command of the game and ownership of opponents.”
According to DeCourcy, Sullinger’s slight statistical drop-off from his freshman season to this year is due to the fact he is being fouled “about 20 percent less” as a sophomore.
“He is most certainly being challenged by defenders in greater numbers and it would appear he is being contacted more,” DeCourcy said.
“He is attempting and making roughly the same number of shots as last season, but he is getting fewer calls. That’s a heck of a sophomore jinx.”
That is evident in Sullinger’s free throw numbers. Through 31 games this season, he has made 57 fewer free throws than he did last season, despite the fact he is shooting 45 percent higher from the free throw line (75% as soph. compared to 70.4% as a freshman).
Also named to the Sporting News All-America First Team were Draymond Green (Michigan State), Thomas Robinson (Kansas), Anthony Davis (Kentucky) and Isaiah Canaan (Murray State).
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