After last night’s close 62-60 loss to Kentucky, Ohio State’s star freshman forward Jared Sullinger said he will be returning to Ohio State next season. Emotional reaction from a competitor after a tough loss, or calculated decision? He says he made the decision earlier in the day, but didn’t tell anyone.
I made this decision today, and I’m a man of my word. I don’t go against my word. If I tell somebody I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it.
Sullinger, of course, is projected as a top 5 pick in the NBA Draft. The Buckeyes lose Diebler and Lighty as starters off this year’s team, two very key pieces that played off of Sullinger tremendously. They would be at worst a top 16 team next year with Sullinger, Craft, and Buford, but there is absolutely no guarantee they return to a magical season like this year. We love players that stick around and get rewarded with a championship. The Danny Manning story (member of top seeded national contender early in college career, carrying a team to title later), though, is guaranteed to no one.
Sullinger, unlike many of the other freshman who are projected highly in next year’s draft, has actually performed and proven something on the court. Sticking around just gives scouts and teams the chance to poke holes in his game. If maximizing his earning potential while getting to free agency earlier and all those factors are not as important to Sullinger as enjoying the college experience, then he should stay. He shouldn’t stay, though, just because he’s upset about a tough loss and wants to get back out there tomorrow.
If he ultimately does stay for next season, good for him. If he declares for the draft, good for him too. I won’t hold him to these statements. We’ve seen enough of these statements right after a loss in college to know that there should be some equivalent of a lemon law that allows you to return the statement within 30 days with no consequence.
In legal terms, Sullinger has given no further consideration in exchange for this statement. You, the fan, have given up nothing and will losing nothing additional by him saying he was returning after an emotional win. Whatever ultimately happens by April 25 (early entrant deadline), I won’t think any less of him.
[photo via Getty]