Sullinger’s Injury Issues on the Minds of NBA GM’s
By Brandon Castel
Jared Sullinger dealt with a wide array of injury issues, including back and foot problems, during his sophomore season at Ohio State.
Photo by Jim Davidson
None of that stopped Sullinger from leading the Buckeyes to the Final Four in New Orleans, but it could stop NBA general managers from risking an early pick on him in the upcoming NBA draft.
According to an ESPN.com report, Sullinger was medically red flagged by NBA doctors after undergoing a series of medical tests at the NBA draft combine a week ago. The report suggests NBA doctors are worried Sullinger’s back problems, which kept him out of two games this year and most of another, could shorten his NBA career.
Sullinger’s father, James “Satch” Sullinger, isn’t buying it. Satch, who was also Jared’s high school basketball coach at Columbus Northland, says the back issues were a result of poor flexibility in his son’s legs during his sophomore season.
“He had a bulging area that was due to his hamstring and quads being so tight,” Satch Sullinger told ESPN.com senior college basketball writer Andy Katz.
“It pulled on his hip flexor and he's been taking care of it to loosen it. You can call it a red flag if you want. But it's tight hamstring and tight quads. He's been to doctors, he's doing yoga and deep tissue massage. The flexibility is helping take the pressure off the area.”
The 20-year old lost 15-20 pounds of fat between his first and second seasons at Ohio State. It showed in is ability to step outside and hit the jump shot with much more consistency, but Sullinger’s back tightened up on him in the days surrounding Ohio State’s 85-63 win over Duke in late November.
Sullinger scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds against the Blue Devils, but seemed to be walking with a noticeable limp after the game. He missed the next two contests against Texas-Pan American and Kansas before coming off the bench in an 82-58 win over USC Upstate.
He reportedly injured his foot in the next game at South Carolina, playing only six minutes in the game, but Sullinger revealed to The-Ozone in March that he had been dealing with a more serious injury.
“I had plantar fasciitis at the beginning of the year, but now everything is starting to disappear and I’m moving forward,” Sullinger told The-Ozone before Ohio State’s matchup with Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament.
“It was bothering me, but with me getting healthier and me being able to elevate a little bit more, that’s big time.”
Sullinger’s elevation and overall athleticism has been a concern since the start of his sophomore season with the Buckeyes. He was projected as a potential top-5 pick in last year’s NBA Draft, but his stock is all over the board heading into the 2012 draft, which will be held June 28 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
The latest mock draft on NBA Draft Express has Sullinger going No. 7 overall to the Golden State Warriors, but ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford has him ranked as the No. 24-ranked player in his top 100.
ESPN.com’s mock draft still has Sullinger going No. 10 to New Orleans. He worked out for the Hornets, who also have the No. 1 pick in the draft, on Monday. He also previously worked out for Golden State and Portland, both of whom pick in the top 10 of this year’s draft.
Sullinger’s dad, Satch, told David Wilkinson of WBNS-10TV Columbus his son’s workouts have been great and teams are beginning to see that he's more talented than they thought.
It was a huge positive when Sullinger measured in at 6-9 in shoes at the NBA combine. He is scheduled to meet with Toronto (Thursday), Cleveland (Friday) and Detroit (June 26). The Raptors have the No. 8 pick in the draft and Detroit is right behind them at No. 9.
Cleveland picks at No. 4 and No. 24, which is probably where they would look at selecting Sullinger, if he were to fall that far.
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