CHICAGO (AP) — Jared Sullinger sounded like a guy with something to prove. There's a reason why.
The former Ohio State star said he feels like he's "always the bad guy in every gym" because "everybody's overanalyzing my game." But he wants to make one thing clear.
He has some strengths.
"Everybody says I can't do this, I can't do that," Sullinger said Friday at the NBA draft combine in Chicago. "Everybody points out all the negatives. There's a lot of positive things I think I do. That's not for me to discuss."
It's for teams to decide, and with the draft approaching this month, Sullinger hopes he can ease any lingering concerns. He believes the combine this week went a long way toward doing just that as he takes the next step following two standout seasons in college.
A two-time All-American forward, Sullinger was widely projected as a top 10 pick had he turned pro a year ago. But now? That's up in the air.
With the NBA lockout looming this time last year, top prospects such as Sullinger and Harrison Barnes decided to stay in school without knowing when their rookie seasons would start. The result was a thin draft then and a deep one now.
Even so, Sullinger doesn't think about what might have been.
"I never tested the waters," he said, although he did acknowledge: "Everybody was saying one, two, three (in the draft). I don't know."
He returned to Ohio State with a dramatically different team that was missing three seniors after finishing 34-3 his freshman season and showed up with a dramatically slimmed down body. He dropped 25 pounds and was more mobile. Instead of scoring all his points with his back to the basket, he popped to the perimeter and shot over the defense.
He emerged as one of the Buckeyes' top 3-point threats, shooting 40 percent from long range, and averaged 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds while leading them to a 31-8 record and a Final Four berth. He was 63-10 as a starter, yet the doubts linger. And Michigan State's Draymond Green doesn't understand why.
"He's going to be a great pro," Green said. "He's contributed at every level. What's going to stop him from contributing in the pros? Some people said he wouldn't do good in college, and he's one of the best college players for the last two years. He's contributed, so I don't see what will stop him from being good in the pros as well."