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Report: Lottery pick Sullinger red flagged by doctors, agent downplays it

Jun 19, 2012, 12:01 AM EDT

Ohio State Buckeyes forward Jared Sullinger sits on the court after the Buckeyes were defeated by the Kansas Jayhawks in the men's NCAA Final Four semi-final college basketball game in New Orleans Reuters

Jared Sullinger, the Ohio State big man who is an expected lottery pick in a deep draft, has been red flagged by league doctors, sources told ESPN’s Chad Ford.

Every draftee undergoes extensive medical exams at the NBA combine, which is where league doctors saw a back issue that disturbed them.

A number of NBA team doctors have reviewed the information from the NBA and have told their front office staff that Sullinger’s back issues could shorten his NBA career and some have advised their teams not to draft him in the first round.

As one would expect, the people around Sullinger are saying this is overblown. His father told Ford that Sullinger had tight hamstrings that were causing some back and hip flexor issues, but these were being addressed by stretching, yoga and more.

Sullinger’s agent, David Falk, said basically the same thing to Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick.

“Jared has consulted with one of the foremost specialists of backs and spines, who has vast experience treating professional athletes,” Falk told “He has explained to us that Jared had extremely tight hamstrings that became tight because he had suffered an injury that I don’t think he was aware of to his hamstring. He needs to maintain vigilance with his flexibility. And if he does that, and keeps his weight at an appropriate level, then he should have absolutely no problems over the next 15 years.”

I’m not a doctor and I’m not going Hawkeye Pierce here. I have no idea how serious this is and what might have caused it.

But this is not going to help his draft status. DraftExpress had him going as high as No. 7, Ford at 10 to the Hornets, our own Steve Alexander suggests 13 to the Suns. He already may have fallen by not coming out last year, as expected, and returning for a sophomore campaign with Ohio State — guys who give scouts another year to pick apart their game often slide. Now he is viewed as a guy who can be a solid, below-the-rim power forward in the league. Not an All-Star, but a guy who can contribute. Think Brandon Bass as a good goal for him.

But this may scare teams off if they like another guy as much. Not sure he falls out of the lottery. Depends on what the doctors say.

  1. tigershark49 - Jun 19, 2012 at 12:23 AM

    Looked like a good prospect, now… dropping fast.

  2. bigtrav425 - Jun 19, 2012 at 12:33 AM

    he will be better then brandon bass..your nuts…not saying a hall of famer but def better then Bass!!

  3. dgbk - Jun 19, 2012 at 12:45 AM

    suns are losing a pg maybe some wing players but lets take another PF after doing that last year?? I know predictions or just guessin but thats a bad one IMO. Morris frye warrick gortat and lopez and sullinger. five ppl for two positions.

    on to the article I will be shocked if he is takin in the top 15.

    • ewyorksockexchange - Jun 19, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      I think 15 to the sixers would be a good spot for him to go. Losing Hawes and amnestying Brand like they should would open up a roster spot at PF, and since Thad Young can play the 4 it’d give sullinger a chance to develop. That’s if the sixers don’t package their 1 with iggy to move up.

  4. franchiseplaya - Jun 19, 2012 at 1:17 AM

    When so few kids that can go pro stay in school for another yr you hate to see something like this to happen to him. This kind of thing is only going to perpetuate one and done athletes who don’t want to risk injury or,as Kurt rightly pointed out, having the holes in your game picked apart. Last yr sullinger and Harrison Barnes were top 5 guys now neither is in that conversation.

    • yaryers - Jun 19, 2012 at 1:28 AM

      This is a very good point, but Barnes is a bad example. Even though his numbers stayed relatively stagnant, he’s still expected to go as high as 2, and probably no lower than 7.

  5. 00maltliquor - Jun 19, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    Imma be pissssed if he falls as low as the 2nd round. The Lakers just HAD to get rid of both 1st rounders!

    He’ll be fine, doctors also said DeJaun Blair’s knees would hold up in the NBA and I don’t think he’s missed a game for two years unless it was a DNP-CD. I love Brandon Bass and all but his ceiling is much higher then that. I see him going in the late teens because of this news. Any lower and I’d be shocked.

    Also, PHX doesn’t need him whatsoever as dgbk stated above^, but that would be the best place for him to go with that dream team of a training staff, so as long as they cleared out some of that logjam @ PF if they were to take him.

  6. cbking05 - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:53 AM

    Can Sullinger bend over and grab his ankles…

  7. seanb20124 - Jun 19, 2012 at 4:11 AM

    I remember when Falk was a mega agent. Thought he had retired.

  8. wjmoffatt - Jun 19, 2012 at 7:28 AM

    Dejuan Blair dropped for reasons like this. He made it work for him, and Sullinger is a better prospect! So someone needs to just say screw it we love this kid.

  9. kvanhorn87 - Jun 19, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    The Sixers would be ecstatic if he drops to 15! Not likely though but he would be a good fit with Brand on cusp of being traded or amnestied. Only reason I say traded is that he has an expiring contract after next season.

    • ewyorksockexchange - Jun 19, 2012 at 2:54 PM

      and since thad young can play pf, it’d mean sullinger wouldn’t have to be in the mix too much right away. I’d be very satisfied if the sixers could get him at 15.

  10. someidiotfromouthereintheprojects - Jun 19, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    i have no experience whatsoever in the medical field, but this sounds alarming. sad news.

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