Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:30 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 2:32 pm
By Jeff Goodman
There will be no debate about No. 1.
No, I'm not talking about whether it's North Carolina or Kentucky for the top overall spot in the poll.
I'm talking about the discussion of who will be the top overall pick in the NBA Draft - as long as there is such a thing as the NBA Draft this June.
After speaking to a handful of NBA executives since Tuesday night, there's only one name that surfaces right now - and that's Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis.
True, he's only played a few games thus far - but it doesn't take a genius to see the potential.
He's a game-changer - on both ends of the floor.
He's got the length that NBA types drool over.
He plays hard - and has a feel for the game.
The lone drawback with the 6-foot-10 Davis is that he's not ready to come in - from a physical standpoint - to the NBA.
However, it's all about potential - and his ceiling is higher than any of the other candidates (i.e. Harrison Barnes, Jeremy Lamb, Jared Sullinger).
Posted on: November 15, 2011 10:51 pm
There’s no more David Lighty, no more Jon Diebler and no more Dallas Lauderdale for Ohio State.
What they do have, though, is Jared Sullinger. A slimmer, more mobile Jared Sullinger. And as long as they have Sullinger, the Buckeyes will be a contender for the national championship.
They proved that against Florida on Tuesday night, taking the lead late in the first half and handling the Gators’ runs throughout the second stanza en route to an 81-74 victory.
Florida had the advantage on the perimeter, with its quartet of scoring guards. Early on, the Gators got to the rim at will. Patric Young was very impressive down low, going for 14 points and 12 rebounds. Florida shot 50 percent from the 3-point line and outrebounded Ohio State 34-25.
All of their advantages didn’t matter, though, as the Gators turned it over too often and weren’t able to defend Sullinger. At the outset, Florida decided to throw a double team at Sullinger whenever he touched the ball, daring other Ohio State players to knock down outside shots. Without Diebler as an outlet, Florida’s plan worked.
However, Sullinger began dragging defenders away from the rim and opening up driving lanes. He worked on his face-up shot over the summer, and the lighter Sullinger was able to be more agile against Florida’s defense. He even forced the Gators to go to a zone at one point, but hit a baseline jumper and knocked them out of that defense.
With more openings for his teammates, Aaron Craft racked up seven assists, William Buford put up 20 points, and Deshaun Thomas had 15.
Sullinger didn’t have gaudy stats. He only made four shots from the field, but was perfect on his eight attempts from the free-throw line and finished with 16 points. He also dished out three assists.
Heading into the season, there were several questions about Ohio State. How would the Buckeyes replace Diebler’s shooting, Lauderdale’s defensive presence or Lighty’s leadership and all-around play?
Turns out it doesn’t really matter for Ohio State. As long as Jared Sullinger is still in Columbus, the Buckeyes are a national title threat.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: October 24, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 2:31 pm
By Gary Parrish
Remember when the SEC Media didn't vote John Wall on the preseason SEC First Team?
I wrote this about it.
Now they've done the same thing to Anthony Davis, and I think I'll just cut what I wrote about Wall, paste it here and change the names where necessary. It'll make the same point and save some time. Here goes:
The SEC media poll and preseason awards have been released.
Kentucky is picked to win the league.
John Wall Anthony Davis was voted Second Team All-SEC.
That's dumb ... and you'll see why in time, I'm certain. Speaking of, I have a friend who watched Kentucky practice recently. When it was over he sent the following text: "Just done watching UK practice. Wow. John Anthony is incredible."
Now I know what you're thinking: Who cares, Parrish?
Answer: I care. And you do, too. That's why you're reading this. And though I realize there are no hard and fast rules to voting for preseason teams, they should, in my opinion, try to serve as predictions for how the postseason team might look. Using that as the gauge, not having Davis on the SEC First Team is undeniably stupid. He's the most talented player on the most talented team in the league. Like I once wrote about Wall, you'll see in time, I'm certain. And please don't mention how "Davis hasn't even played a college game yet," because that's the dumbest thing college basketball fans annually spend October saying about incoming freshmen. Remember, Jared Sullinger had never played a college game, either ... until he did. Then he got 19 points and 14 rebounds in Ohio State's season-opening win, and that shouldn't have surprised anybody.
Because some guys are just obviously gifted.
Jared Sullinger is one of those guys.
Anthony Davis is, too.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 9:45 am
Edited on: October 20, 2011 8:40 am
By Jeff Goodman
COLUMBUS, OHIO - Thad Matta says he's the toughest player he's ever had. That includes his time at Butler, Xavier and Ohio State.
Yet there was Aaron Craft, standing on the sidelines, sitting out practice on Monday after taking an elbow from Deshaun Thomas the previous day.
I'm just giving Craft some you-know-what because it was just ironic Craft missed the one Buckeyes practice I'll be at this preseason.
And even though walk-on point guard Alex Rogers was terrific, this is a completely different team without Craft.
I'll have more on him later this week, but there's just nothing that the unassuming sophomore point guard doesn't do on the court. He leads, makes his teammates better, can lock guys up and has also (reportedly) improved his perimeter shot.
Anyway, here are my thoughts and observations following Ohio State's practice:
- I've already chronicled Sullinger's new look and how it'll benefit him this season.
- Matta wants - and needs - William Buford to be more aggressive and get to the line with more frequency. He's the lone upperclassman who has played on this team and needs to become more assertive than he's been in the past.
- The most surprising performance came from Lenzelle Smith, a seldom-used guard a year ago who may just be the frontrunner to earn the fifth and final spot to start this season. The other four will almost certainly go to Sullinger, Buford, Craft and Thomas. However, Smith has shot it well, he's strong, athletic, plays with a motor and can defend. "I need him to be out Ronald Nored," Matta said. That's a high expectation, but Smith can be a quality glue guy who brings multiple assets to the table this year.
- Don't be shocked if Matta throws Craft and freshman point guard Shannon Scott out there together at times. They are both small floor leaders, but both shoot it well enough - and Craft is about as good of a defender as you'll find, so the Buckeyes could probably get away with it on the defensive end.
- Matta called freshman forward Sam Thompson the "most athletic player I've ever coached." It's easy to see why. He's a high-flyer, but his skill level is further along than many people gave him credit for. Plus, Thompson is a high IQ guy - so look for him to get playing time this season. "It's freakish," Matta said of Thompson's athletic ability.
- One of the new big men will need to step up to take the minutes vacated by veteran Dallas Lauderdale. The candidates: BC transfer Evan Ravenel and freshmen Amir Williams and Trey McDonald. Right now the minutes would go to Ravenel because of his experience, but the 6-foot-11 Williams could catch him - if he learns to play hard - later in the year. "I think Amir can help us rebound the ball and affecting shot around the basket," Matta said. "He's still learning."
- Sophomore J.D. Weatherspoon has the athletic ability, but will also need to play hard consistently to get in the rotation.
- Ohio State assistant Chris Jent is a huge addition to this coaching staff, replacing Brandon Miller - who left the business. Jent said he wouldn't have left the Cleveland Cavs if it wasn't for the combination of Matta and being at his alma mater. He also said it'll allow him to be a more well-rounded coach. "It's an opportunity to coach the other side of the ball," said Jent, who was coaching the defense with the Cavs.
- Diebler is now in Greece while David Lighty is playing in Italy.
- I hate to admit it, but Greg Paulus kicked my @#$ in ping pong. In fact, I may retire after my performance - which was just truly embarrassing. At least know we've found a sport than Paulus can actually play.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 1:09 am
Edited on: October 21, 2011 4:58 pm
By Jeff Goodman
COLUMBUS, OHIO - Jared Sullinger came into Columbus a year ago at 290 pounds. Now he's at 265.
Luckily for the Ohio State sophomore, though, he hasn't lost the large derriere that makes him extremely difficult to defend in the paint.
Sullinger has slimmed down. He's talked about it all summer, but I saw it with my own eyes on Monday afternoon in practice, when the svelte favorite for National Player of the Year honors showcased his improved agility.
"He's really toned up," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "He told me yesterday how much better he felt after five practices."
Ohio State strength coach Dave Richardson showed me the before and after photos - and it's impressive how Sullinger has changed his entire body. He's gone from 24 percent body fat to 12 percent now.
"It's motivating," Sullinger said when he sees the pictures.
Now Sullinger drinks water, turns down pizza and it's paid off.
There should be significant differences in Sullinger's game this season:
1) Explosiveness - He's never going to be a high-flyer, but he's hopeful he won't be considered an "under-the-rim" guy anymore. "I'm a lot quicker and I think I'll have the ability to go over the top of players now."
2) Endurance - He's in better shape and should be more effective late in the game - even if he logs big minutes.
3) Defense - Sullinger said he would rate himself a "4" on the scale of 1-10 on the defensive end last season. It's clear he's taking more pride in that end of the court - and the departure of 25 pounds should help as well. "I believe I can guard when I want to," he said. "I need to put my mind to it."
4) Footwork - Sullinger's footwork has always been impressive, especially for his size, but now it'll be even better with less baggage.
5) Perimeter Game - Sullinger will still do most of his work in the paint, but Thad Matta has given him the "green light" to shoot 3's.
Sullinger said the NBA lockout had no impact on his decision to return to Ohio State for his sophomore season. He told Matta throughout his freshman campaign that he'd be back - and was even willing to sign a contract.
Then Matta found out that Sullinger told reporters after the loss to Kentucky in the Elite Eight that he was definitely coming back as the pair were walking to the bus.
"He was like, 'Oh, sh#t. We've got a chance to be really good."
Especially now with the new-look Sullinger.
Posted on: August 25, 2011 12:04 pm
By Matt Norlander
Call it Sullinger's Sophomore Slim Strategy. Or don't. I don't really care. I've got a blog post to write here.
After a somewhat-hefty existence as a freshman, Ohio State focal point Jared Sullinger has been taking his diet and game pretty seriously this summer. He was noticeably lighter when attending LeBron James' camp at the beginning of July, and it seems the shedding of skin is continuing.
Bob Baptist spoke with Sullinger recently about how he's gone about losing his weight, which could realistically be anywhere between 10 and 25 pounds, depending on how heavy he truly got last season.
Sullinger told Baptist he's currently at 270 pounds. And all along, he's planned to be well under that number by the time the season starts. Looks like it's probably going to happen. Clearly, this a man of his word.
Some of what he told Baptist:
Sullinger also did the mandatory things that must be a part of any diet: knock out the crappy grub, mainly of the fast-food variety, and keep the portions smaller. Sully was listed at 280 pounds last season. If that floated a little closer to three bills, I wouldn't be all that surprised -- and neither would most of Sullinger's Big Ten opponents in the paint.
But remember, Sullinger is the big man in Ohio State's scheme and that's a critical cog to how Ohio State was so effective last season, operating the most effective offense in the country. He's got to be healthy, but how low will he go before it impacts how he impacts a game? There's a sweet science to be perfected here, as Sullinger will look to increase his stamina without sacrificing too much of his girth and force.Baptist also reported Sullinger's body fat has dropped from 23 to 14 percent.
Posted on: June 28, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2011 2:59 pm
By Gary Parrish
Jeff Goodman and I spent Monday doing a 2012 NBA mock draft.
We alternated picks.
I took Harrison Barnes first.
Goodman took Anthony Davis second and said he would've taken him first.
(Note: Looks like I'm the smart one. Again.)
Then we knocked out the next 28 picks and among the players never selected was Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor, which led to a few emails that asked the following questions: "Are you an idiot? Did you forget about Jordan Taylor?"
Answer to Question No. 1: Maybe
Answer to Question No. 2: No
As everybody should know by now, being a great college player doesn't necessarily make somebody a great NBA prospect, and Taylor might be an example of that. I'm not ready to give up on his NBA prospects just yet because he could reasonably go late in the first round of any draft and then develop into a quality NBA point guard. I don't know. But the fact that Taylor is a tremendous college guard means nothing ... except for that he'll be a First Team Preseason All-American.
Speaking of, I decided to take a look at how some preseason All-American teams might look.
If I'm doing two teams, here's what I've got:
G: Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin)
G: Austin Rivers (Duke)
F: Harrison Barnes (North Carolina)
F: Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
F: Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
G: Tu Holloway (Xavier)
G: John Jenkins (Vanderbilt)
F: Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut)
F: Terrence Jones (Kentucky)
F: Perry Jones (Baylor)
Posted on: April 13, 2011 10:15 am
Posted by Matt Norlander
Because the Internet easily catalyzes it by way of anonymity, hate is more prevalent now than it's ever been before.
Athletes who take to Twitter are now primary targets for showerings of love and hate, but it's not often we get to see just how much of either the athletes get. Ohio State freshman Jared Sullinger is the exception. The big man has made an off-and-on habit of retweeting insults as a way of motivation. He relishes his doubters and haytas in a public way few athletes, let alone college ones, have done before. Yesterday, Sullinger took to Twitter to share some malicious literature he received. Ironically, it wasn't a mean-spirited tweet, a sinful post on a message board or a volatile email.
It was in an old-fashioned letter. If only it was hand-written.
The racist, dumb, angry, misguided letter is pictured below. Notice the multitude of misspellings and incorrect grammar. I almost didn't want to give this anonymous loser the pleasure of dedicating a post around him, but pointing out his terrible writing and further exposing hate speech is a benefit for all, I think.