He was projected to go in the top 15; he was invited by the NBA to a prime seat in the 2012 Draft, surrounded by TV cameras and all the glory that comes along with that.
But as the names and numbers are read, some your former teammates and some your rivals you start to notice that once bright spotlight start to fade… and fast. The next thing you know you’re falling into the top 20 and eventually out of the first round.
This happens every year as the best and brightest college stars gather to prove they have what it takes to make it in the NBA. But sometimes those dreams become humiliating nightmares, just ask Jared Sullinger. Days before he was to cash in that magical golden ticket Sullinger was red flagged by NBA Doctors because of back problems. The Doctors feared that because of these problems this could shorten his career in the NBA, and it just might do that.
Many in Sullinger’s family has said that it is not a back issue, his Father Satch has said that it is a “bulging area that was due to his hamstring and quads being so tight” Andy Katz who works for ESPN.com as a college basketball writer has said that “It pulled on his hip flexor and he’s been taking care of it to loosen it. You can call it a red flag if you want. But it’s tight hamstring and tight quads. He’s been to doctors, he’s doing yoga and deep tissue massage. The flexibility is helping take the pressure off the area.”
But regardless of what Sullinger’s family or supporters have said or how much they are going to down play this, the NBA Doctors obviously saw something. Being in the top 15 of the Draft is big business not only for the team you’re signing a contact with but for you as well. You are expected to be at your very best. The problem with Sullinger is now that he has been labeled with a back issue or whatever they want to call it he has become a high risk player. And some teams just don’t see that high reward payoff like they see with other players. When you are giving someone millions you expect a million dollar performance in return. Not to say that he couldn’t be a great player, he has obviously shown that he has the skills to be where he is at but this could become a serious problem.
Even if it really is something “simple” like a hamstring or quad issue, what if those become problems? How do the NBA teams know that he will be ready to go every game without a chronic injury issue? Do teams really want to take the time to invest in a player that comes in with problems?
With the draft upon us the cameras will roll, the jerseys will be held high with smiles and the tears will for sure come. But for Sullinger those aren’t options right now. He will be back home watching the Draft with the rest of the world. Right now isn’t his time, but his time will come. If he can focus on getting healthy and fixing whatever needs to be fixed, this could be a different story next year. For now, he will have to stay tuned with the rest of us.