J.J. Sullinger had a consistent and solid three-year career at Ohio State. From 2003-06, the older brother of Jared Sullinger started 86 of 94 games, shot 49.5 percent and averaged 9.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.9 steals. Also, he helped lead the Buckeyes to the 2006 Big Ten title, their first since 1992.
After his Ohio State career, Sullinger played pro ball in the Philippines, Poland, Belgium, Austria and China. His playing days now over, Sullinger is the lead real estate buyer’s agent for The Lambright Team, a company out of Westerville, Ohio.
Read my full email Q&A with Sullinger below.
BTN.com: I’ll start off easy: Why did you pick No. 0, which Jared also wore, at Ohio State?
J.J. Sullinger: Not too many people know this, but I didn’t go to OSU all four years. My first year out of high school, I went to The University of Arkansas. I wore 0 there, but it stood for where I was from: Ohio. I decided to keep it going when I transferred back home.
BTN.com: What was the best AND worst part of going to school and playing college ball in your hometown?
Sullinger: The very best thing about playing in my hometown was the home cooked meals. I came home at least once a week and had a meal with my entire family. It became a tradition. The worst part of playing in Columbus, would probably be never ever having enough tickets to go around for everyone. Ha, I still have people I’ve promised tickets to who have never been to a game. If you’re reading this, I haven’t forgot. I still got you!
BTN.com: Were there any other schools looking at you when you transferred from Arkansas following a solid freshman season?
Sullinger: Pretty much any school I played against was interested. OK State, Illinois, and even Texas Tech, to name a few. UNC and Notre Dame, I believe, as well. Everyone knew where I was heading though. I was only leaving U of A to come home and live out my dream of being a Buckeye.
BTN.com: Your first season in Columbus was under Jim O’Brien. I’m curious, what was your and the team’s first impression of Thad Matta?
Sullinger: We were shocked at how positive he was, and how encouraging he could be. He pretty much took the same exact team from the previous year and won 20 games. We were not very confident in ourselves and he made us believe in our abilities. I say it all the time, but Coach Matta saved my life. Not that I was in any danger, but I was definitely heading down the wrong path and he got me to refocus, and it absolutely worked out in my favor.
BTN.com: How about your favorite behind-the-scenes Matta story that nobody but you and your teammates would know?
Sullinger: He’ll probably kill me for this one, but we were having a terrible practice. We didn’t have too many of those. But, for whatever reason, this day we were just not very good. Coach starts screaming and yelling and he ended up kicking himself out of practice. But he forgot his keys. He had too much pride to come back in, so he had to wait until we all left, even the managers. Let’s just say, he didn’t make it home in time for dinner!
BTN.com: On the topic of teammates, who was the guy you all turned to for a laugh, to lighten the mood when things got tough?
Sullinger: We all were that guy at some point. During my time at OSU, we had some flat-out comedians. Whether it be Ron Lewis’ tin man suit he would wear his redshirt year, or Je’Kel Foster’s country accent, we all turned to each other for laughs. Tony Stockman was usually cracking jokes on somebody! He cracked so many jokes on Jamar Butler that Jamar’s mom had to ask him personally to stop. Then, the jokes really started flying. Jamar was forever known in the locker room as “Mamma’s Boy!”
BTN.com: What was the best moment on your way to winning the 2006 Big Ten title, Ohio State’s first since 1992?
Sullinger: Honestly, the entire season. We were picked eighth at the beginning of the season and won it outright. That was awesome! Beating Michigan State at home was sweet – something we had never accomplished since ’92, as well. The Izzone was quiet that night!
BTN.com: Was Terence Dials, the 2006 Big Ten Player of the Year, the best player you ever called a teammate?
Sullinger: T. Dials, my best friend, was absolutely the best player I played with. His hands and his ability to create space in the lane is amazing! I always thought he should have gotten more of a shot at the next level; he’s definitely better than some of the guys who made it ahead of him.
BTN.com: Which Big Ten rival player did you most enjoy facing, and why?
Sullinger: (Michigan State’s) Maurice Ager, (Indiana’s) Bracey Wright and (Wisconsin’s) Alando Tucker. Those guys were tough. I always tried so hard to beat them. Didn’t always succeed, but I got my fair share of W’s!
BTN.com: You get to invite any three Ohio State basketball personalities, past or present, over for dinner. Who’s coming over to your place?
Sullinger: That’s a tough one… I’m gonna go with Jim Jackson, John Havlicek and Coach Knight. Can’t go wrong with those three, can you?
BTN.com: Who was the first to beat you in a game of 1-on-1: Jared or Trey Burke?
Sullinger: Jared, ugh! Jared and Trey used to go so hard trying to beat T Dials and myself at Northland’s Open Gyms Jared’s senior year. We were of course playing 5-on-5, but it might as well have been 2-on-2! Those guys got so much better from that. I absolutely am taking all the credit. T Dials and myself are solely responsible for everything they have accomplished. Hahaha!
BTN.com: How many Celtics shirts do you own?
Sullinger: Not enough! Team issued gear is my absolute favorite. I need some more.
BTN.com: LeBron or KD?
Sullinger: OHIO! King James baby!
BTN.com: Whose poster(s) did you have hanging in your bedroom as a kid?
Sullinger: MJ’s and a few Penny Hardaway posters.
BTN.com: Favorite reality show?
Sullinger: The Journey! Only reality TV show with substance. All these wives making a name for themselves being bratty disgusts me!
BTN.com: If money’s no issue, where are you taking your family on a vacation?
Sullinger: Cayman Islands. Just got back from there a week or two ago for the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer, where we raised over a million dollars for Cancer Research. The Cayman’s are amazing! Can’t wait to go back!
|About Brent Yarina||BTN.com senior editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.|