Kentucky v Ohio State

Jared Sullinger is getting in “top overall pick” shape

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Jared Sullinger would have had a great shot at being No.1 in this year’s draft had he departed Ohio State early. Instead, he elected to return to OSU, turning down the millions and opting to enter the league after the lockout, and also after the new CBA is agreed upon which will likely lower his rookie scale contract. Sullinger says that it’s all about wanting to “be a kid” and experience college. Forgive us if we’re skeptical, perhaps Sullinger really is the exception to the rule. But it’s hard to imagine the financial realities of the lockout didn’t influence his decision. Then again, it still would have been more profitable for him to come out early, so maybe the kid’s being honest. Maybe he really did just want to spend another year slinging a backpack and tossing Frisbees. (We’re pretty sure Sullinger isn’t the Frisbee-tossing-type, but it seems more timely than referencing a Hacky-Sack.)

Either way, a report from the Northern Ohio Morning Journal who spoke with Sullinger gives some light on what he’s looking to do before he does make the leap next year.

He said he’s lost between 10 and 15 pounds since last season. He said he’s been boxing, running stadium stairs and hitting the weights. He said he has seven more weeks of conditioning.

“I’m able to move better,” Sullinger said. “I’m working on my face-up game and my handle. You’ll see more of that.”

via Sullinger has no regrets about returning to OSU – morningjournal.com.

Now that’s all talk, but it’s still good to hear. One of the best things Sullinger has going for himself is his perceived level of maturity. The decision to return to school reinforces that. The decision to work to shed some weight does even more for that. Bigs who can show up lean if they’re not huge are at a premium. You don’t want to have to work on losing weight off the kid before you start adding it with weight training.  Sullinger is making all the right moves.

He’ll still be facing one of the most loaded draft classes in recent memory with a slew of freshmen who will challenge for the top spot. But Sullinger’s overall resume, combined with the traditional “always take the big man” and his work in improving his face-up game to play a true power forward coming in could pay off huge. Either way, barring injury, Sullinger looks to go top five next year easy, and have a good chance at the top spot.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: