Maybe because it was an All Star game, maybe because I was sitting in the press box six thousand feet above the court, or maybe because he hadn’t yet fell under the tutelage of Thad Matta, I walked away not really as impressed as I thought I’d be for some reason.
Harrison Barnes, I was convinced, was far and away the best player on the court that day. I thought Sullinger was good obviously, but he didn’t strike me then as being great.
I was wrong initially regarding Sullinger though (time will tell on Barnes) but at this point it’s clear to not only me but anybody who watches five minutes of a Buckeyes hoops game that Jared Sullinger is a flat-out beast.
The second time I saw him play in person was last week, when I traveled down to Columbus to watch the Buckeyes beat Penn State and grab the number one spot vacated by Duke’s loss earlier in that week.
My eyes were on Sullinger for just about every minute he was on the court, and I was blown away.
I’m kinda late to the Sullinger party, I’ll admit that, and I’m not saying I discovered anything last week that Buckeye Nation didn’t already know. I’m just saying that I walked out of the gym that day thinking that not only is this guy most definitely great, he very well could be the best player in the America this season.
In yesterday’s win over a top-25 Illinois team, Sullinger’s performance only served to legitimize his rapid rise towards candidacy for each and every one of those player of the year awards.
He played 40 minutes – which would mean he never sat down – and scored 27 points to go with 16 boards and 3 blocks. Completely dominant.
Which got me thinking, is he better than Greg Oden?
Or let me re-phrase: if you had to pick one college freshmen playing big man, for one season – either Oden or Sully - who you taking?
Now before we get too far, try to focus back on Greg Oden the OSU Buckeye. Don’t think Durant, don’t think injuries, don’t think about translating either one of these two guys’ games to the next level.
Just the college basketball playing version of Greg Oden. As compared to college basketball’s Jared Sullinger, who has his team at 20-0 and heading for the same type of Final Four finish that the last great big man before him did.
I’ll break down the stats that I’ve been looking through this morning in a minute, but before I do, I’ll first say this about Greg Oden.
In my opinion, he was so good at OSU, such a difference maker, that I honestly still don’t blame Portland for taking him over Kevin Durant with the number one overall selection when they did. It was obviously a move I’m quite sure Portland would like to do over, and it does kinda smell like Sam Bowie over MJ, but at the time how could you blame the Blazers? Oden looked and played that good.
Now with that said, here’s how the numbers shake out. Oden’s statistics are through 32 games. The Buckeyes went 35-4 that season before falling to Florida on April 2nd, but Greg did miss the first 7 games of the season.
Those numbers are as follows:
Greg Oden: 28.9 minutes per game, 61.6% field goal percentage, 15.7 points per game, 9.6 rebounds per, 3.3 blocks, 63% from the foul line, and he didn’t make or take any 3′s.
Sullinger’s stats then are through 20 games obviously, but it’s worth pointing out they don’t yet include Big Ten Tournament Games, NCAA Tourney games, and especially sweet-16, Elite 8, or Final Four type match-ups where he would most certainly be defended differently than he has to date.
That said, here’s where Sully’s at so far:
Jared Sullinger: 30.5 minutes per game, 57.4% field goal percentage, 17.9 points per game, 10.2 rebounds per, 0.6 blocks, 74.1 % from the foul line, and he’s 1 of 8 from three.
These guys, while both operate in the painted area, are most definitely different players. One’s 6’8″ claiming to be 6’9″ and the other is a legit 7′ who could run the floor back in the day.
You can’t go wrong either way here, and as of right now I’m not sure who I’d rather have for one season as a Buckeye.
I am sure though, in the preseason, I never thought it would ever be a debate.