Sullinger Declares Decision, Headed To NBA Draft
Photo by Jim Davidson
When Jared Sullinger arrived on the Ohio State campus nearly two years ago, OSU coach Thad Matta knew that it was inevitable, but today it became a reality as the Buckeye big man announced that he’ll be entering his name into the 2012 NBA Draft.
“I want to personally thank The Ohio State University for everything they’ve done for me,” Sullinger said to open up a nearly 40 minute press conference announcing his intentions of turning pro. “I’m looking forward to the journey that’s about to come.
After averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds a game as a freshman during the 2010-11 season, the 6-foot-9 Sullinger opted to pass on the opportunity to join the NBA- where he was projected to be a top-five pick- in favor of returning to school for his sophomore season. Despite seeing his rebounding numbers slightly slip as he dealt with back and foot injuries throughout the 2011-12 season, the Columbus-native felt vindicated in his decision to return to school when the Buckeyes reached their 11th Final Four in program history.
“This decision came about with us getting to the Final Four,” Sullinger said. “Coach Matta, I had a talk with him, and he pretty much said do what’s best for me and I felt that the best decision for me was to go to the NBA.”
While OSU’s Final Four run may have helped Sullinger’s legacy and peace of mind, an extra year in Columbus wasn’t as kind to his draft stock. Between questions about his injuries and a deeper draft class in 2012, most NBA Draft analysts now project Sullinger as late-lottery to mid-first round pick.
“Given what happened in the last year, people got better, people got worse, but stock really doesn’t mean too much to me at this point,” Sullinger said. “I just want to do what’s best for my situation, and I thought what’s best for my situation was going to the next level.”
Sullinger said that he plans on maintaining a promise to his mother, Barbara, to earn his degree in sports management from OSU, but will withdraw from classes for the time being in order to protect the Buckeyes from being hurt in their Academic Progress Rate. The two-time All-American’s departure also opens an available scholarship for Matta to use- one that the OSU coach expected to have considering the talent of a player like Sullinger.
“The timing is definitely right,” Matta, who’s now seen seven players leave early for the NBA in his eight years at OSU, said. “I’ve known since Jared got here that this was probably going to be the end of the road.”
The MVP of this year’s East region in the NCAA Tournament, Sullinger will now begin the process of searching for an agent and preparing for workouts and scouting combines en route to the June 28 draft. The Buckeyes, on the other hand, will now await the decision of another potential draft entree in forward Deshaun Thomas, who has until Tuesday April 10th to enter his name into the draft.
“I’m in the process of just trying to get as much information as I can for (Thomas), in terms of talking with teams,” Matta said. “I want to give him all the informations so that he can make the best decision that he possibly can.”
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