He's really good. I'm almost not sure what else we can say about him at this point and we're only 10 games into his freshman campaign. Although he was all over the court, one facet of his play particularly left me impressed.
Sullinger was dialed in from the opening tip. When he scored 40 against IUPUI last week, he needed a pep talk from head coach Thad Matta in the early part of the second half to convince him to start demanding the basketball. Although he is clearly one of the most talented freshmen in the nation, he does not seem to hold himself in that regard.
Quick to credit his teammates, Sullinger almost has seemed surprised at times that he has had as much success as he has had in his collegiate career. In this contest, facing one of the better opponents on what is a weak non-conference schedule, he was aggressive from the very beginning.
There was no waiting around for the freshman to get into the flow of the game. There was no necessary pep talk to get him fired up. There was only a focused intensity that the Gamecocks immediately knew they could not answer.
I think … that there will be a debate about which Buckeye should be the sixth man of the year, and there should not be.
I would take Aaron Craft ahead of Deshaun Thomas every day of the week and twice on Sunday. In addition to being the first substitution in nearly every game for the Buckeyes, Craft is proving himself to be a seamless addition to the OSU offensive attack.
Against South Carolina, Craft saw 23 minutes off the bench and had three assists, two steals, one block and no turnovers. That in itself is great production from a freshman point guard, but he also added four points on 2 of 3 shooting.
Simply put, he does not make waves. That is a great trait to have as a point guard and especially impressive as a freshman. The same can not be said for Thomas, although he has shown flashes.
I realize that you can not ignore the production Thomas has put up to this point, however. He obviously has the ability to fill the basket on occasion and we have heard raving reports about his play in practice that paint him as the team's top player. Plus, I am sure head coach Thad Matta will not argue with seven rebounds off the bench.
To me, there remains a long way to go for Thomas. It starts with showing that he wants to find his teammates at least as much as he wants to put the ball in the basket.
One cause for concern with Craft, however: I would like to see him stop picking up as many fouls. He's fine as long as he does not foul out, but I feel like there is an adjustment still to be made that will start cutting down on the number of times he is whistled for an infraction. His three fouls led the team against the Gamecocks.
Take those out of the picture and there is little else I would wish for from Craft this season.
I think … that Dallas Lauderdale should be credited for having a big game against the Gamecocks.
He will never put up the kind of production we are seeing from Sullinger on a nightly basis, but the senior's seven boards and six points against the Gamecocks were a welcome addition. Afterward, Matta said he is seeing fire in Lauderdale's eyes as he goes after the ball and I would have to agree. We've seen some definite hustle out of the big man as of late.
Plus, adding him to OSU's defense makes it much more difficult for teams to try and attack Sullinger in the paint. He's like a bodyguard for the freshman, helping to keep him out of foul trouble.
I think … that I continue to be not sure what to make of William Buford. He finished second on the team with 12 points but needed 11 shots to get there and continued to take shots out of the flow of the offense with no hope of an offensive rebound.
OSU committed only eight turnovers against the Gamecocks and Buford had four of them. He also had at least two opponents drain three-pointers in his face without as much as lifting a hand and was responsible for at least one non-blockout in the second half that led to a dunk of an offensive rebound by the visitors.
I've heard at least one other writer term him the most overrated player in the conference. I'm not willing to go that far yet, but Buford has not been the player I expected to see so far this season.