Jared Sullinger, the Anti-Terrelle Pryor
Jared Sullinger is the latest of the freshman phenoms recruited by Ohio State Buckeyes Head Coach Thad Matta. Matta has had incredible success in his tenure in Columbus both on the floor as well as on the recruiting circuit. The unbeaten Buckeyes stand poised atop the NCAA landscape at #1 in the country, largely due to Jared Sullinger.
Sullinger has not only been the best player for the #1 team in the country and positioned himself for National Player of the Year consideration, but he has done it the right way. Sullinger, by all accounts, appears to be humble, hardworking, sincere, and despite his young age appears to be a leader on the Buckeye team.
Sure, he is not THE leader on THE Ohio State Buckeyes due to the strong senior leadership that is exhibited by guys like David Lighty and Jon Diebler, but he already exhibits more leadership qualities than Terrelle Pryor likely ever will. Before you get upset with my disdain for Pryor, remember that I am a huge Buckeyes fan and I want the same things you do. I want all Buckeyes teams and players to succeed.
I’ve seen things from Pryor, however, that honestly hurt the team and I personally have no respect for him. Yes, he’s a very young man and he can grow and change. But to this point he hasn’t and he has shown little to signs of improvement in my opinion. I am not a fan of Pryor and you have every right to disagree with me.
I am, however, a huge fan of Jared Sullinger. He assuredly a top 5 pick in the upcoming NBA draft should he choose to declare, he’s the best player on the best team in the Country, and at Ohio State he is literally treated like a god among men. Yet he still remains humble, polite, hardworking, and a great teammate.
For instance, you may have heard the story about the Minnesota fan who taunted Sullinger with a sign during the Buckeyes recent victory over the Golden Gophers. The fan had a sign with a picture of Sullinger wearing lipstick and earrings mocking his rendition of a Miley Cyrus song (video below).
Now, ask yourself how Terrelle Pryor would likely have responded. All you must do is think back to many of his ill-advised tweets and comments responding to criticism last year. But Sullinger approached the young man (Andrew Wagner) and requested the sign from him. The Plain Dealer asked Sullinger why he requested the sign and he said that he wanted to give the sign to his mother, thinking she would “love it, to have it to hang up.”
Wagner later read the story on the Plain Dealer and contacted Sullinger on Twitter. Sullinger responded by mentioning this fan on his account, telling everyone that he liked the sign and asked them to follow the Minnesota fan. The fan was so impressed by Sullinger’s response on the court and on his twitter account that he mailed the sign to him.
Wagner is quoted as saying “He was very classy and professional in dealing with the hostile crowd, he had a good sense of humor about the sign and it was for his mom.”
This is just one example of the class, professionalism, leadership, and decency displayed by Sullinger throughout his short career with the Buckeyes. It’s a shame there aren’t more guys like this in sports and it’s a shame that he will likely only be around for this one season. Hopefully he and the Buckeyes can make it one to remember for many years to come.