Who would you rather have as a college freshman: Oden or Sullinger?

The first time I saw Jared Sullinger play in person was at the McDonald’s All American game this past year. 

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.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    I think I’d take Oden, if only for his absurd blocking ability. Splitting hairs, as both of these guys are great, but Oden was a flat-out baller.

  • Cgutta

    I’ll take Sullinger simply because he has more low post moves, stays out of foul trouble, less turnovers (Felt like Oden traveled every other possession), and he’s a better passer out of the double team.

  • Lyon

    I love Oden but have to take Sully. His offense is just a lot better than Oden’s.

  • Jim

    Sullinger. Its the age old question of potential vs. results. Oden certainly had more potential. Sullinger simply delivers results. Oden had one truly dominant game in his one year at OSU; the national championship. Sullinger is simply dominating everytime he steps onto the floor.

    While Oden was probably better defensively, Sullinger is clearly light years ahead of him on the other end. He has NBA post moves right now. He looks like the 2nd coming of Elton Brand, if Brand could shoot free throws effectively.

    With each passing performance, I become more sold on Sullinger possibly going number 1 in the draft. I think he’d look pretty good in wine and gold.

  • Shamrock

    Oden as a freshman but Sullinger is just going to only get better. Oden didn’t show as much as Sullinger has as a fresh in the way of offense but he was still awesome. It’s a shame his body betrayed him. If Sullinger stays healthy and continues to work I really think he’ll be a star. Rebounding is heart and desire both appear to be naturals for Sullinger.

  • MattyFos

    I saw Oden and Conley play a game on ESPN during their Senior year in High School and Oden put up a triple double, I think. One of the stat lines was like 10 blocks. Oden was a beast on the defensive side of the game. He was raw on offense but dominating in the paint. I haven’t watched Sully much but I’d take Oden because the potential he still has.

    But I’m the guy who still thinks Hasheem Thabeet can be a decent big in the NBA

  • http://www.curseofcleveland.com Kirk Lammers

    From a guy who had/has season tickets to see both of these Buckeye big men, they are both going to go down as absolute studs in the OSU basketball program and fan favorites.

    But, trying to take the emotion out of it, and looking strictly at the COLLEGE FRESHMAN versions, I would confidently take Jared Sullinger.

    As some have mentioned above, Sullinger stays out of foul trouble, has better endurance, owns a larger variety of post moves, is a much better passer, and has the ability to rebound nearly as well as Oden despite being 3-4 inches shorter.

    Oden has Sully on pure defensive impact and like I said, rebounding, but his offensive game was so much more about brute force than Sullinger. Oden at this point has done what Sully hasn’t also, led his team to Big Ten and Regular Season titles and a trip to the National Championship Game.

    Let’s give Sully that chance, though, because he may just have the more complete team to do it.

    In NBA terms, Sullinger has his question marks at the next level due to his size and yet-undetermined jumpshot potential. If Oden hadn’t suffered all of these injuries, he would be the choice in my view.

  • MattyFos

    Remember when Oden was shooting free throws left handed and was still hitting like 70%?! ca-ray-zee

  • Jimmy

    Sullinger is great offensively, but I think you guys forget how Oden would shut an entire team’s offense down by himself. The Buckeyes were able to play so aggressively on defense on the perimeter because of him, and that was when they had guys like Jamar Butler and Ivan Harris out there. Imagine what this year’s Buckeye D would be like with a stopper like Oden in the middle. I would take Oden.

  • mgbode

    Oden’s D >> Sullinger’s O

    Thank you Thad Matta for both

    (just think back to that Tennessee block if you need a tiebreaker)

  • Ike

    The fact that we’re having this discussion, when Oden played his freshman year with effectively one hand, should tell you what I think.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com BAJ22

    Since college BB is a team sport, I would take Sullinger. Oden, while physically superior, seemed aloof and was not (to me) a strong team player. Sullinger exudes a team-first attitude and seems to do whatever it takes for the team to win. Of course Sullinger has a lot of game to back it up, too!

    In addition, while I think the Oden/Conley team was great, I enjoy watching this team more because they play more together as a team. They are unselfish and seem to have excellent team chemistry. Hope they can keep it going! Big game with Purdue tomorrow night!!