CHICAGO – Big Ten Network college basketball analyst Jim Jackson knows something about the NBA.
A veteran of 14 seasons, he has an idea of what it takes to make it at the next level. And he says questions about Ohio State power forward Jared Sullinger’s readiness for the NBA are nonsense.
“His athleticism, can he get lift off the ground?” said Jackson, a former OSU All-America guard. “It’s not about that. He knows how to play the game, and it’s all about the system you’re in.
“There are multiple players like a Kevin Love, a Zach Randolph – players in the league who are not as athletic, but they know how to play the game, and that’s what’s important, and that’s what Jared has going for him.”
Sullinger, who met with the Pistons on Wednesday night, brought a solid résumé to this week’s predraft combine.
Two-time Sporting News All-America first team.
Two-time All-Big Ten first team.
Big Ten freshman of the year.
Ohio State has done a lot of winning the past two seasons, with only 11 losses and a Final Four appearance this past season. Sullinger was the Buckeyes’ best player, averaging 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds.
That production is a major reason Sullinger is considered a probable lottery pick. But some questions remain.
Sullinger said Thursday: “Can I play defense? Can I jump? Will I be able to play the four? Am I a five? Can I shoot the basketball? Will I be able to guard the four, or will I have to guard the five?”
Others also wondered about his weight.
But he sure looked the part of an NBA lottery pick when he walked through the cramped meeting room for his media session.
He looked every bit of 6-feet-9, and there weren’t any signs of fat with the T-shirt he was wearing.
Sullinger said back spasms prevented him from working out properly this past season, but he is fine now and has put in the time in the weight room and running.
Sullinger said he takes the criticism in stride.
“All my life I’ve always been known as the underdog,” he said.
“People said I wasn’t going to be able to play at the college level, and I did. Some people said I wasn’t going to be able to play at the high school level. Some people said I was too overweight to play at the middle-school level, so I’m so used to getting the overweight sequence. I’m just used to it.”