After an All-American freshman season at Ohio State, Jared Sullinger had a chance to enter the NBA and become a lottery pick.
He passed, instead returning to school for a chance to become National Player of the Year and win a National Title.
And while that was great for college hoops fans that wanted to see Sully in Columbus another season, it wasn’t exactly the best decision for the player. You see, Sullinger had a relatively disappointing sophomore campaign, and while a number of the causes were outside of his control — he didn’t have the same kind of supporting cast without Jon Diebler and David Lighty and he never appeared to fully heal from an injury early in the season — it doesn’t change the fact that the big fella fell down draft boards throughout the year.
The biggest blow came earlier this month when someone leaked the news that Sullinger had problem with his back and his hamstrings.
As a result, Sullinger’s draft stock has gotten to the point that he reportedly has not been invited to the Green Room at the draft, where players expected to be pick in the top 10 to 15 spots wait to be selected. There is still a chance that he gets taken earlier is a team is enamored with him, but recent history isn’t favorable. Darrell Arthur fell all the way to 27th in the 2008 draft as a result of questions about a potential kidney ailment. A year later, DeJuan Blair — a guy that many use as a comparison for Sullinger at the next level — fell to the second round because of he didn’t have any ACLs in his knees.
This is why players leave school early. If Sullinger was the fifth pick last season, his contract would have guaranteed him almost $9 million over the first three years of his deal. In contrast, last year’s 25th pick won’t even average $1 million per season.
That’s a big difference.
Is the risk worth coming back for an extra season of college ball?