The Celtics may have gotten the steal of the draft when Jared Sullinger dropped to them at #21. Jared Was rated by most major recruiting publications as the #1 player at his position and one of the Top 3 high school players nationally as a senior at Northland High School in 2010. He earned numerous honors in his high school career, including 2010 McDonald's All-American, 2010 High School Naismith Award winner, 2010 Jordan Brand High School All-American and the 2010 Parade Magazine Player of the Year.
As a senior in high school, he averaged 24.5 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3 blocked shots and 2.4 assists per game while shooting 78 percent from the field, 38 percent from beyond the arc and 77 percent at the line. He finished his high school career with 1,910 career points and more than 1,200 rebounds.
Jared was impressive in his first season at Ohio State with his size, strength and efficiency in the paint. He proved to be very tough down low never hesitating to throw his body around and be physical when playing inside. He also shows the skills and footwork of a player much smaller. In addition to sound fundamentals taught to him by his high school coach who also happened to be his father, Sully plays a very mature game with patience and confidence that belie his youth.
Sullinger had 19 points and 14 rebounds in his Ohio State debut. In his freshman season, Sullinger averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 31.7 minutes per game. Ohio State finished the regular season at 32-2 and was selected as the 2011 NCAA tournament's number one overall seed but lost in the Sweet Sixteen. Jared was chosen First Team All American.
In his sophomore season, Sully led the Buckeyes to a 31-8 overall record. He averaged 17.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game during the season. The Buckeyes advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament, but they lost to the Kansas Jayhawks. He declared for the draft soon after the tournament and was considered to be a lock to be a top ten pick.
But things went wrong during the physicals for the draft. Doctors red flagged Sully with a back problem and his stock dropped. Even though he never had any problems with his back in high school or in his two years at Ohio State, GM's were wary. The Celtics were very happy to see him on the board when they picked at 21.
In Summer League, Sully showed that he has great fundamentals and a solid post game. He plays well with his back to the basket. Thanks to a great touch, Sullinger is also an excellent finisher off cuts and a good shooter. He also has good hands and isn't prone to turnovers.
One knock against him was his conditioning. He has already lost weight and has also put himself on a diet and conditioning program so when the season starts, we should see Jared in the best shape of his career. He isn't known for his athleticism and he'll have to prove that he can get his shot off over the bigger and stronger NBA players. But with his solid fundamentals, he should be able to figure a way to make it work.
Along with being a fundamentally sound basketball player, Sully is also a great kid. I've posted this story before, but it's worth repeating.
Northland (his high school) was undefeated during Sullinger’s sophomore season and advanced to the district semifinals. Any thoughts of a state title came to an abrupt end when Satch benched Jared for failing to complete a homework assignment. Northland lost the game, but Jared gained perspective.
“It teaches you accountability. So many of these young guys nowadays, it’s all about me. They never take time to figure out how they affect others,” Satch said. “When he didn’t do his work and he forced me to make the program stand for something, he realized it didn’t just affect him, it affected others. He started to really understand what team concepts really are. He let his team down during that period of time over something he had total control over.”
He also reported recently that he wouldn't be getting tattoos because of a promise he made to his mother. He's got character and he and principles along with that basketball talent. Yes, the Celtics got a steal when Sully dropped to them at #21 and it won't be long until we see just how big a steal he was.