Andy Gottesman / Multimedia editor
As the only college All-American on the roster, in addition to living a mere two hours away, Ohio State freshman forward Jared Sullinger attracted a larger crowd than most when players met with the media during this past week’s LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio.
“How much do you weigh?” one of the gathered reporters asked the Buckeye big man.
Sullinger scanned a nearby official camp roster as a smile came to his face.
“According to this, I’m 280,” he said with a laugh.
The humor of Sullinger’s answer was obvious. Anyone who’d watched him play in Akron over the past couple of days saw that he’s slimmed down significantly from the 285 pounds he played at during the 2010-11 season.
Sullinger said he’s lost between 10-15 pounds since the season ended and that his weight now hovers around 272 pounds. He attributed his recent weight loss to his offseason workout routine that includes a heavy boxing regimen.
“A minute jabs, a minute hooks, a minute body blows,” Sullinger said, explaining his routine in the ring.
Despite his noticeable weight loss, Sullinger still has some work to do, as he stated a desire to drop even more weight and drop to between 255 and 260 pounds by the time the 2011-12 season starts. The sophomore-to-be said that a slimmer Sullinger does not necessarily mean a less-powerful Sullinger.
“My butt’s not going nowhere,” he said. “That’s where most of my power is.”
If Sullinger’s weight wasn’t the subject he was asked most about this week, it was his decision to return to OSU for his sophomore season, as opposed to entering last month’s NBA Draft, where he would have likely had been a top-5 pick.
“You can only be a kid once in your life,” Sullinger said. “I don’t want to rush into worrying about taxes, and apartments, and cars. I don’t want to deal with that just yet. I just want to have fun, play basketball, and be a kid and be able to live that college experience.”
Sullinger’s been living that college life over the summer, where he’s been taking summer courses at OSU between attending basketball camps and working out.. He was invited to participate with Team USA’s U-19 national team over, but declined in order to stay in Columbus to get to know the five players who comprise the Buckeyes’ incoming freshmen class.
Thanks to the significant minutes that they played last season, Sullinger said that he and classmate Aaron Craft are viewed as upperclassmen on the team.
“Coach Matta basically told me he’s not looking at me as a sophomore. I’m a junior,” Sullinger said. “We’ve been through of the roughest times with last year, and they lean on us to push them through and show them how hard work really pays off.”
Sullinger hasn’t just limited his advice to his new teammates, as he’s also taken on a leadership role at this week’s LeBron camp.
“When we’re playing each other, he’ll be like, ‘Hey, do this,’ and it really helps you out. So he’s really been teaching me throughout the camp and helping me out to become a better player,” incoming Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis, a projected top-5 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, said.
Although he’s improving others, Sullinger’s also working on his own game. He said he’s added a face-up game and he showed the ability to hit a midrange shot with consistency throughout the week in Akron. With the arrival of freshman center Amir Willaims on campus, Sullinger could spend more time playing the power forward position than he did last season.
“That’s for Coach Matta to decide,” Sullinger said. “I would love that, because that would mean we shouldn’t be getting out-rebounded.”
OSU has not released its full schedule for the upcoming season yet. However, it has already announced dates against Kansas, Duke, and Florida.