Sullinger Measures Up at NBA Combine
By Brandon Castel
Former Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger did not perform drills at the 2012 NBA Pre-Draft Combine in Chicago this week.
He was not alone.
A large number of the top players in this year’s NBA Draft opted not to compete in front of coaches, scouts and general managers at the UIC Pavilion, home of the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames.
That doesn’t mean Sullinger had nothing to prove before the draft, which is scheduled for Thurs., June 28 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
One of the biggest questions surrounding Sullinger coming out of Ohio State, where he spent the last two seasons, has now been answered.
Photo by Jim Davidson
The 20-year old out of Columbus measured in at 6 feet and 7.75 inches in socks at the combine this week. That equated to a solid 6-9 in shoes, which is really the method teams use for measuring these players.
For example, almost everyone everywhere lists Kentucky’s Anthony Davis as 6-10 or even 6-11. The National Player of the Year in college basketball is almost a lock to go No. 1 overall to the New Orleans Hornets, but he measured in at 6 feet and 9.25 inches in socks, a solid 6-10 ½ in shoes.
The same goes for Davis’ UK teammate, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. A potential pick at No. 2 for the Charlotte Bobcats, MKG is listed at 6-7, but measured in at 6 feet and 5.75 inches in socks. He was well over 6-7 in shoes.
In other words, the 6-9 measurement for Sullinger should be enough to quiet some of his doubters, at least the ones who were worried Ohio State’s big man did not have the size to body up down in the paint at the next level.
“All of my life I've been an underdog,” Sullinger told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal this week.
“People said I wouldn't be able to play at the college level. I did. Some people said I wouldn't be able to play at the high school level. Some people said I was too overweight to play at the middle school level.”
The weight issue was something that followed Sullinger in high school, as well as his first season at Ohio State. Sullinger weighed over 280 pounds as a freshman with the Buckeyes in 2010-11, but he was still being projected as a top-5 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Sullinger decided to return to OSU for his sophomore season after losing a heartbreaker to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Almost immediately, he became the target of skepticism and uncertainty surrounding his height, weight and relatively nonexistent athleticism.
“Can I jump? Am I able to play the 4? Am I a 5? Can I shoot the basketball? Will I be able to guard the 4 or will I have to guard the 5?,” Sullinger said, reciting many of the question marks surrounding his game.
“People say I'm not tall enough to play the 5; I'm not fast enough to play the 4. But that's what they think. Me personally, whatever position my coach or my team wants to put me in, you've just got to accept it. It's no biggie. I don't classify myself as (one) position.”
Sullinger played mostly center at Ohio State, but dropped nearly 20 pounds between his first and second seasons in order to diversify his game. This past season, he showed he could step outside and knock down the jumper, which is something he will have to do at the next level.
He weighed in at 268.2 pounds this week with 10.7 percent body fat and a 7-1 wingspan. A number of scouts have compared his game to that of former Duke standout Elton Brand.
“People say he couldn't jump and he wouldn't be able to adjust to the NBA,” Sullinger said of the former No. 1 overall pick.
“All of a sudden he's an all-star, he's getting a max contract, he's developed his jump shot and averaged 20 and 10 some years. He's a great basketball player.”
Sullinger is hoping to follow a similar career path. Questions about his size and his game had plummeted his stock into the mid-teens, according to many draft prognosticators. The website NBADraft.net even has Sullinger falling all the way to Dallas at pick 17, but NBA Draft Express still has him going No. 6 overall to Portland.
The Blazers are one of a number of teams who have been linked to Sullinger this week. They hold the sixth and 11th picks in the draft, but Golden State also reportedly has interest in Sullinger at No. 7.
From there, it’s just a matter of someone deciding Sullinger’s upside is worth the risk that maybe he will have a harder time adjusting to the NBA because of his shortcomings.
At least now we know his height won’t be one of them.
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