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The Early Lead
Posted at 09:27 AM ET, 04/05/2012

Jared Sullinger decides to leave Ohio State for the NBA


Jared Sullinger, flanked by his parents and Ohio State Coach Thad Matta, announced that he will enter the NBA Draft. (Brooke LaValley / AP)

After debate and comparisons — both pro and con — between Jared Sullinger and Kevin Love, the matter will soon be settled.

Sullinger, a 6-foot-9 sophomore who led Ohio State to the Final Four last week, announced that he will be available for the NBA Draft on June 28.

“Going to the Final Four with a team that many people said we weren't good enough, weren't strong enough, weren't mentally tough enough, and still being able to get to the Final Four with all the ups and downs we had, I think that was tremendous for this basketball team,” Sullinger said Wednesday. “Once we got to the Final Four, we were trying to win it. But unfortunately, we fell short. I feel at peace with the decision I'm making.”

Sullinger averaged 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds while making 52 percent of his shots from the field (40 percent from the three) and 77 percent from the line and made the comparison with the Minnesota Timberwolves’ star himself. (Ohio State may lose another starter, with Deshaun Thomas considering the NBA after the Buckeyes’ 31-8 season.) But has Sullinger, 20, already peaked? He was projected as a top-five pick a year ago, a borderline lottery pick now after his field-goal percentage dropped and he had back problems this season. His father, Satch, coached him in high school in Columbus and said his son just wasn’t ready a year ago.

“The skill set's always been there. But last year, at this time, I wasn't comfortable as a parent with the option of him possibly going to the NBA,” Sullinger said. “Jared's had it pretty easy in basketball, he's been relatively injury free. This year I watched the peaks and valleys and I watched him mature. There's only one way to get experience and that's by being inexperienced in a situation. I watched him be immature in certain things and work his way out of it. I saw that consistency start to come back during the end of the season run all the way through the Final Four.”

How will Sullinger fare in the NBA?

By  |  09:27 AM ET, 04/05/2012

 
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