Jared Sullinger won’t be available in 2011 draft, will return to Ohio State

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Derrick Williams should be hearing cash register sounds in his head right about now.

The 2011 NBA Draft is not slated to be terrific. It’s a weak class to begin with, shallow, with no “locks” at the top. Throw in the effect of a potential lockout on the process and you’re looking at a draft no one is particularly excited about. Granted, drafts can look one way in March and entirely different in December as players outperform expectations. The 2009 class wasn’t thought of very highly but a surprising number of first round picks from that class are starters and rising stars. But if this year’s draft was considered light on star power before Friday night, it just plummeted even more.

Jared Sullinger is coming back to Ohio State.

After the Buckeyes’ gut-wrenching loss to the Kentucky Wildcats, Sullinger told reporters he was absolutely returning next season for his sophomore season;

“I’m going to be an Ohio State Buckeye next year,” he said. “This isn’t why I came here, to come in here and see my seniors in here crying. I came here to win a national championship.”

Plenty of people make pledges in the rubble of an emotional loss only to change their mind later, when the sting and suddenness of the season fades and the promise of the NBA looms.

Sullinger, who had 21 points and 16 rebounds in his final game of the season, insists that won’t happen.

“I’m a man of my word,” Sullinger said. “I don’t change my word and no one changes it for me. This is what I want.”

via Jared Sullinger vows he will return to Ohio State – ESPN.

The comments are consistent with what Sullinger has said consistently throughout the season, so there’s no reason to doubt him, despite many previous one-and-done players committing to their team after a tournament exit only to depart when the financial realities set in. It’s entirely possible the same happens with Sullinger, but his comments have been pretty strong to the point you have to believe him.

With Sullinger out, Arizona’s Derrick Williams becomes the surefire top big in the draft, if he hadn’t already obtained that with his perimeter barrage and terrifying posterizations against Duke Thursday night. Buckeye fans get another year of Sullinger and NBA fans will have to wait while continuing to be concerned about the quality of the upcoming draft for teams who need stars now.

 

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”