NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 25: Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates after a play against the Kentucky Wildcats during the first half of the east regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Prudential Center on March 25, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Jared Sullinger Says He'll Stay At Ohio State, Eschew 2011 NBA Draft

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Jared Sullinger To Stay At Ohio State, Pass On 2011 NBA Draft, Father Says

Jared Sullinger appears to be serious about his post-game declaration that he would return to Ohio State for his sophomore year and pass on declaring for the 2011 NBA Draft. Sullinger's father told Pete Thamel of the New York Times that he is sure his son will be coming back to school. 

Satch Sullinger on his son: "You can etch it in stone. Jared Sullinger will be back at The Ohio State University."    

This is a bit of a surprise, because Sullinger is expected to be one of the first players selected in the 2011 NBA Draft. Draft Express has him going No. 4 in its latest mock draft, and ESPN's Chad Ford has him in the same spot. But the prospect of an NBA lockout, combined with Sullinger's own desire to keep his college experience alive, has evidently convinced Sullinger to stay in school.

Ohio State will lose three starters -- Jon Diebler, David Lighty and Dallas Lauderdale -- to graduation, but returns Sullinger, William Buford, Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft next season, making the Buckeyes a potential candidate to open the season as the nation's No. 1 team.

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Jared Sullinger Says He'll Stay At Ohio State, Eschew 2011 NBA Draft

Ohio State's Jared Sullinger is the first major NBA Draft prospect to say he'll stay in school instead of declaring himself eligible for the June pro pool. Sullinger's Buckeyes fell to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night; the burly forward was fantastic in defeat, having the sort of game we've been accustomed to seeing. Sullinger scored 21 points and had 16 rebounds (eight offensive).

But after the game, Sullinger said he's coming back for another run at OSU. From SB Nation's Along The Olentangy:

In a small but extremely notable consolation prize, Sullinger and [junior guard William] Buford said they would return next season to the Buckeyes, which could find themselves in the preseason top-5 if that scenario holds true. When pressed on whether he was making the commitment out of emotion or frustration, Sullinger told the media, "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."

Many players have claimed they'll come back in the immediate aftermath to a crushing loss, only to later change course. Sullinger will have plenty of temptation to enter the 2011 NBA Draft, as DraftExpress currently lists him at No. 4 on its Top 100 Prospects list; ESPN's Chad Ford has Sullinger in the same spot.

Sullinger and Arizona's Derrick Williams are the top domestic power forwards potentially in the draft pool; Perry Jones, Enes Kanter and Donatas Motiejunas will also be in the lottery mix at that position.

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