This might sound scary, but at today's Big Ten Men's Basketball Media Day, Ohio State head coach Thad Matta suggested that returning sophomore Jared Sullinger has improved his game and will be even better than he was as a true freshman.
The Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2011, Sullinger averaged 17.2 PPG with 10.2 RPG en route to a dominating season by Ohio State.
Because of this, it was believed that Sullinger would jump to the NBA because many draft experts projected him as a possible No. 1 draft pick, or at the very least, a top three pick. But his return was no surprise to his head coach.
"Jared had told me a year ago last summer that he was going to be here for at least two years. And so there was no shock and awe in my mind when he announced that he was coming back," said Matta.
Now to think that Sullinger will be even better this year around is not what the other 11 Big Ten teams want to hear.
One reason for Matta's statement regarding Sullinger is that the 6'9" power forward has been hard at work this offseason in losing weight.
"I think in regards to the physical changes that he's made, you know, he's obviously dropped body fat, and along with that, as everybody knows, goes weight. He appears to be, in my mind, moving more fluidly. He seems to have a better mortar," said Matta.
To go along with the loss in weight, Sullinger has, according to Matta, improved himself as an all-around basketball player. In other words, what he lacked last (speed, dribbling skills, and even outside shooting) has been the central focus of his offseason workout regimen.
"The thing we talked to him through the preseason going through the rigors of the Big Ten, if we can move him around a little more, they won't be able to beat on him as much," said Matta. "Along with that he's taken to improving his ball handling, improving his outside shooting."
"And I think more of a complete player, more of a power forward with a touch of skill," concluded Matta.
- Josh Harvey -