Excuse me if we've heard this before. Star player loses in the NCAA tournament, and immediately makes a vow to fans, coaches, and fellow players that he is 100% hell-bent on sticking around. The only problem here is that the star player in question is Ohio State superfrosh Jared Sullinger, a kid who many NBA scouts believe is a top-five pick right now.
After last night's frustrating loss to Kentucky, Sully stole the show in the media room by revealing that he wants to come back for another chance at a title:
"I'm gonna be here, gonna be at Ohio State next year. I don't like the look in peoples' eyes and I don't like the taste we have of losing. I don't appreciate losing. If I made a decision about next year, it would be off a win, not a loss."
Nobody likes to lose. We get it. Especially not a McDonald's All-American who spent a full year with arguably the most successful regular season team the sport. But emotions were running high for Sullinger all night long. He was frustrated by Kentucky's athleticism, and despite impressive numbers, was outplayed by a guy (Josh Harrellson) he probably should have demolished. And yet, Sully held strong:
"I made this decision today, and I'm a man of my word. I don't go against my word. If I tell somebody I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it."
People might point to a quote like this and come to the conclusion that Sullinger is a different breed from other players. Hell, maybe he is. But when millions of dollars are thrust in front of your face, we've seen kids from coast-to-coast pull a 180 and spurn the colleges they proclaim to love.
The plan all along was for Sullinger to win a title and head straight to the NBA. At least, that's how he thought things would go down. However, the bitter taste of bowing out before the Final Four appears to have changed things quite drastically. It also brings up an interesting question to ponder: If Ohio State had reached Houston and lost in the title game let's say, would Sullinger be more content with his first year on campus?
He's one of the best players in the country, desperately wants to win a title, and doesn't exactly need the riches of the NBA at this exact second. Thing is, even though he might not need the money, how do we know he isn't going to take it when it's offered?
Jared Sullinger may very well be a man of his word. Ohio State fans certainly hope so. But we've been fooled countless times before, and until we see the official list of declared underclassmen released without his name on it, we're not going to rule the NBA out.