Three months ago while announcing his intention to enter the NBA Draft, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger was asked where he wouldn’t mind winding up in the NBA.
Sullinger answered by saying he’d like an old-school team like the Boston Celtics, where he could learn from a veteran power forward like Kevin Garnett. At that moment in early April, Boston seemed unlikely with the Celtics looking like a solid playoff team and Sullinger projected as a lottery pick who should be gone by the middle of the first round.
By Thursday night, a lot had changed, and Sullinger in the end was right on the money.
After his stock fell over worries about the health of his back, Sullinger was selected with the No. 21 pick in the draft by Boston.
Sullinger’s fall will cost him in his first contract. He’ll make about $2.6 million total in the first two guaranteed years of his rookie contract, about $2 million less than he would have made in his first two years as, for instance, the No. 10 pick.
Sullinger was a high school and college All-American because of his production, with a knack for rebounding and creating space around the basket. He averaged 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds as a sophomore, after a freshman season of 17.2 and 10.2. Predicted as a sure lottery pick after his first year of college, Sullinger returned to the Buckeyes, missed time last December with back issues, led a Final Four run and then saw his draft prospects drop in the last week.
For his home court, Sullinger will now play where he pushed the Buckeyes into the Final Four, with the No. 2 seed Buckeyes beating Syracuse in the East Regional Final in March. His task was made easier that night by the suspension of Syracuse 7-footer Fab Melo, who will now be Sullinger’s teammate. Boston picked Melo with the No. 22 pick.
When asked about Sullinger’s back, Coach Doc Rivers replied “I played 13 seasons with a bad back”, and stated that all of their doctors cleared him.
Sullinger is the seventh first-round selection in Matta’s eight years at Ohio State, joining Evan Turner (No. 2 in 2010), B.J. Mullens (No. 24 in 2009), Kosta Koufos (No. 23 in 2008), Greg Oden (No. 1 in 2007), Mike Conley Jr. (No. 4 in 2007) and Daequan Cook (No. 21 in 2007).
About the Author
Written by Jimmy Martinez
I am a recent graduate of The Ohio State University. I currently live in Columbus, OH, but am originally from Derwood, Maryland.