Jared Sullinger was ESPN’s second ranked rookie in the country, an All-American first team two years in a row at Ohio State, and ultimately became a 2012 NBA first-round pick for the Boston Celtics. These days the 28-year-old lives in Columbus, Ohio with his two twins, and once he’s got them settled for the day he’s going to train at 11atheltics.
He looks back fondly on his remarkable college career which spanned from 2010 to 2012, averaging 17.3 points, 9.7 rebounds per game and appearances in the Sweet 16 and Final Four.
“The state of Ohio has given me the opportunity to show my talents and be able to be me as soon as I walk in the door,” Sullinger told me in a phone interview.
Going to the state of Ohio was obvious to Sullinger; his brother JJ played for the Buckeyes for three seasons from 2003 to 2006. Sullinger says his brother told him on the field of his last game at Ohio State that if Thad Matta offers him a scholarship, he should go because he doesn’t. there is no other coach like him.
“I trust my big brother,” he says. “He did so many things for me growing up. It was just that I listen to him.”
After such a successful career in those two seasons he would be a first-round pick and earn millions of dollars, but the decision to leave college was still a tough one.
“It was the last pure form of basketball you could play,” he said. “When you get to that level, it’s all on the line. You never know if a team is going to rebuild themselves, you have draft picks that they want to develop. There is so much that goes into this basketball game- ball when you get to pro level, so it is not known how much you enjoy college basketball until you get out of it. ”
On June 28, 2012, he was selected 21st overall by the Boston Celtics. Concerns about his back injury suffered in college dragged him into the project.
“I was literally playing on one leg sometimes,” he said.
He would have back surgery while he was with the Celtics, and later in his career, when he played for the Raptors, he had two foot surgeries. However, even with the injuries lingering, he played well when he dressed. On the Celtics at 21 in his second NBA season, he’s averaging 13.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. The following season, he averaged 13.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
“I won’t say it came easily,” he said. “When you’re on the screening report in the NBA, you have to be able to bring it every night, and there have been times I’ve struggled just because the screening report has heated up.”
Prior to those two seasons, he was a rookie on a Celtics team with players like Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Paul Pierce.
“Guys like it, they constantly stayed in your ear on how you can improve yourself, what you need to do, find a routine, how to become a pro, these guys just helped me develop some of my good ones. habits I have today. ”
After his four years in Boston, he played 11 games for the Raptors and spent time playing for the ABC in China. If he could look back at himself before the NBA Draft and get out of college, he would give himself some powerful advice.
“Don’t get lost in the moment,” he said. “Sometimes when you reach your dream, it’s like, and you’re caught in the dream, instead of its reality now. I think that’s the problem. I was just still caught in the dream at instead of waking up and realizing that was actually reality, I need to improve myself, I need to do something to push myself forward, to establish myself more in the NBA, and I think that was the most big problem. ”
At just 28 years old, he is younger than current NBA players in their bonuses, such as James Harden, Damian Lillard and Paul George.
Sullinger isn’t ready to call it a career and is looking to make a comeback in the NBA.
“I’m definitely trying to get back to the NBA,” he said. “I feel like I still have a lot of basketball left, I can help a team, I feel like I’m not the tallest guy but still strong enough to keep a five and be able to stretch the floor, I’m in better shape. ”
The 6’9 “Sullinger still has the same agent he had years ago, David Falk, and is committed to going all the paths he needs to take to get back to the NBA, like playing in the G- League, and as of today he says he feels “amazing”, and it’s the best health he’s ever felt.
“I’m just looking for someone to give me an opportunity,” Sullinger said. “If I get the chance, I promise I’ll seize the moment at that time.”