Though it was a far cry from where many thought Jared Sullinger would eventually selected in the NBA Draft, the former Buckeye forward’s professional basketball career officially began Thursday night when he was selected by the Boston Celtics with the No. 21 overall pick in this year’s draft.
Despite being a projected top-five selection after his freshman season, Sullinger returned to Ohio State for his sophomore season. His father, Satch Sullinger, told BSB that move wasn’t regretted because it was something the forward needed to do in order to be fully for the next level.
Sullinger found more success in his second season with the Buckeyes, making for the latest chapter in the advancement of Thad Matta’s program. Having averaged 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game during his career, Sullinger helped lead the Buckeyes to consecutive Big Ten regular-season championships before the program’s latest run to the Final Four.
But despite his continued dominance on the floor as a sophomore, questions regarding a lack of explosion lingered after he suffered from back spasms following OSU’s blowout win over Duke in late November that caused him to miss two games.
Concerns about back issues became a hot-button issue last week after ESPN.com reported that doctors that examined the big man marked him as a red flag for “back issues that could shorten his NBA career.”
Satch Sullinger told BSB that the injury wasn’t career-threatening and it shouldn’t effect his productivity if he uses the proper health precautions, including proper stretching methods and care from the team’s physicians.
Despite falling deeper than expected down the draft board, Sullinger’s family is positive about what remains for the forward.
“If he slips, the higher quality of team he is going to,” Satch Sullinger told BSB before the draft. “He’ll be able to play and grow without being thrown to the wolves. The bottom line is, people that sit around and complain don't really take time to appreciate the blessing that they do have. Jared is going to have an opportunity to play in the NBA and it doesn't make a difference if he is first or 26th.”
It still remains to be seen what Boston’s final roster will look like next season, as if faces uncertainty with the futures of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Along with Paul Pierce, Allen and Garnett helped the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
“Boston will be getting a quality person and a tremendous basketball player,” Matta said in a statement. “Jared was an integral part of our success the last two years and I suspect he will be equally successful in the years to come. This is a day the Sullinger family has been looking forward to for many years. I know they are proud of Jared’s accomplishments and will be avid supporters throughout his professional career.”
Check back with BuckeyeSports.com for more updates on the NBA Draft.
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