School: Ohio State | Year: Sophomore | Age: 20 | Born: March 4, 1992 | Position: PF/C
Height: 6’9” | Weight: 280 | From: Columbus, OH | Best Case Scenario: Al Jefferson 2.0
Jared Sullinger very well may have been the first pick in the 2011 NBA draft had he chosen to leave school early, but instead chose to return for his sophomore season with NCAA championship aspirations and a chance to continue to hone his game. A little undersized at 6’9”, Sullinger makes up for his height with his big body and large arms. At 280 pounds with a 7’2” wingspan, he has been a force to be reckoned with ever since playing his first game last year with Ohio State. However, he does not possess above average athleticism compared to NBA power forwards and his 32” vertical leap is nothing to boast about. He understands the limitations of his game and does not attempt to play outside of what makes him successful.
Sullinger does the majority of his damage on the low block. Due to his strength and low center of gravity he is very good and getting and maintaining inside position. He consistently puts himself in position to fight for offensive rebounds and has great intensity fighting for balls on the offensive glass. He scores mainly with his back to the basket, as he has continued to improve his post moves and footwork in the paint. Sullinger does not possess elite athleticism and tends not to finish above the rim in traffic, and he is not a superb alley-oop candidate. He has developed confidence using either hand on hook shots and also has a good midrange jump shot that extends out to the NCAA three-point line. As he progresses, he will need to learn to score faced up with his defender.
Sullinger maintains great body control and is able to finish effectively through contact. Due to his great hand-eye coordination, he is able to catch quick passes and is always ready for the ball. His soft touch makes him an extremely efficient finisher in the lane. On offense, Sullinger is a black hole when getting the ball and is not good at creating scoring opportunities for his teammates. At the college level, this is acceptable due to his physical domination of his opponents. However, at the NBA level, he will likely not begin as the first scoring option and will need to be unselfish on offense. He attracts many double teams and needs to recognize this and find the open man.
The problems facing him lie in his average mobility and athleticism. His slow foot speed makes him a non-threat driving from the wing and when matched up with good shot blocking opponents, he has a tough time elevating over them. Not a great transition player, Sullinger will need to continue to turn his baby fat into lean muscle in order to improve his agility. However, he is a great hustler and is a good rebounder. His size gives him an absolute advantage in the lane and creates extra possessions for his team on offense. He possesses a great motor and does not give up on possessions.
Sullinger is very good at banging down low and getting to the free throw line, where he is an efficient free throw shooter at 77%. This season he has found confidence shooting from three-point range, and his shot mechanics and release give him the potential to be a threat shooting from long range. This will force his defenders to play him closer, making it easier for him to blow past his defenders. His perimeter game is still unpolished as he is not very comfortable dribbling starting from the perimeter. If he can continue to slim down and improve his foot speed, he has the potential to be a threat driving from the perimeter.
Defensively, Sullinger has been a foundation down low for one of the top defensive teams in college basketball. Although he is not a great jumper and only blocks 1 shot per game, his low center of gravity combined with his strength make him very tough to back down. His long wingspan makes it very tough to get a shot up against him, but his slow foot speed make him a target for quicker big men.
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Photo Credits: TheOfficialTalk