Jared Sullinger’s two years at Ohio State culminated when his name was called with the 21st overall pick (falling all these many spots cost him about $2 million) by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft Thursday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Sullinger is the eighth Buckeye coached by Thad Matta, head coach at Ohio State, selected in the annual professional draft.
Sullinger was considered a top 3 pick last year (but he didn’t come out) and a sure fire lottery pick this year. Not so much. He wasn’t even invited to the NBA green room; reserved for the top 15 draft picks. But the Celtics clearly fell in love with him.
As a sophomore, the Brady Quinn of the NBA Draft averaged a team-leading 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds for the Buckeyes. He averaged a double-double as a freshman with 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds, numbers that also led his teammates.
Michael Redd, another Columbus native who played for the Buckeyes from 1998-2000, said Sullinger has the ability and intelligence to prosper at the professional level.
“The young man is skilled,” Redd said. “His basketball IQ is off the charts. He has got to work and put the time in but I can see him having a long career in the NBA.”
Seven of the eight Ohio State student-athletes selected in the NBA draft since Matta took over the program (2005-present) were taken in the draft’s first round and there has been at least one in each of the last seven draft classes.
The last first-round selection was Evan Turner, selected in the opening round by the Philadelphia 76ers with the second overall pick in 2010. He followed in the footsteps of Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., and Daequan Cook, all freshmen from Ohio State’s 2007 NCAA runner-up squad, who were taken in the opening round of the 2007 NBA Draft. Freshmen centers Kosta Koufos (2008) and B.J. Mullens (2009) also were first-round selections.
Portland, with the first overall pick in 2007, selected Oden. He was the first Buckeye selected with the opening pick. Conley went to the Memphis Grizzlies with the No. 4 pick and Cook was selected by Philadelphia with the 21st pick of the opening round. Koufos was taken by the Utah Jazz with the 23rd pick in 2008 while Mullens went originally to the Dallas Mavericks with the 24th pick in 2009. He was then traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder on draft night.
Since 1947, 49 Ohio State basketball players have been drafted by NBA teams, including 23 first round selections.
Sullinger joins Turner, Mullens, Koufos, Conley, Cook and Michael Redd as former Buckeyes currently active in the NBA. He also joins two more Big Ten guys on the Celts roster, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore from Purdue.
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