Jared Sullinger comes from a basketball family with plenty of older brothers. His father, also his high school coach, says he can be better than any of them.
That's saying a mouthful.
The 6-foot-7 freshman from Columbus Northland High School has one brother, Julian, playing at Kent State. Another, J.J., just finished a four-year college career at Arkansas and Ohio State.
Playing for his father James, who goes by the nickname "Satch," Sullinger finished the regular season with 16 points and 10 rebounds per game for the 20-0 Vikings. Sullinger is one of three freshmen seeing meaningful minutes for Northland, including Javon Cornley, the younger brother of Penn State sophomore Jamelle Cornley.
"How many 14-year olds do you know that has sat at (former Arkansas head coach) Nolan Richardson's kitchen table and listen to him talk about basketball?" asked Sullinger's father following their 83-53 victory over Marion-Franklin High School Saturday evening in Gahanna. "Or been to an Arkansas or Ohio State practice or Kent State practice? Or welcome being to a Jim O'Brien practice? He's been around some of the top coaches in the country.
"They've accepted him as J.J.'s little brother and then the things that J.J. brings home and shares with him in his mind and development, and Julian at Kent State with coach (Jim) Christian, who's about to win his seventh straight 20-win or more season," Sullinger added. "Those are the things that are helping him."
When speaking about his youngest son, Sullinger beams with pride. He believes Jared may have more potential than both J.J. and Julian.
To this point, Jared has given good reason to believe that.
"Wisconsin just left," Sullinger said of the interest shown from colleges. "Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan, Purdue, Dayton, Kent State, Cleveland State, Florida has inquired, UCLA has inquired, Tennessee has inquired – there's a lot of schools but those are just inquiries."
"Satch," has been around the block in the basketball world.
He coached J.J. for a period of time early in his high school career at Reynoldsburg before moving on to Thomas Worthington. Sullinger also coached at Oberlin College for a couple of seasons.
In fact, he's been around for over 30 years as either a coach or administrator. The thrill, he adds, was when he was an administrator for USA Basketball in the 1980s.
"Pops has been around some coaches," he said. "There was one tryout we had at the Olympics and I'm in the gym with Don Nelson, Dean Smith, John Thompson, Jim Boeheim, Norm Stewart, Jim Calhoun and some of the players were Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullins, Antoine Carr and Doc Rivers.
"I was like a sponge, man," he added. "I was absorbing."
Jared has absorbed much of his brothers' basketball savvy and instincts. He's also picked up some of those same skills.
The biggest issue for Satch will be how his son progresses physically.
He hopes Jared continues to trim down, get stronger and perhaps grow another few inches.
"Jared can start introducing himself to the weight room and make the weight room his friend," Sullinger said. "He's got to understand his body is his tool and he can never lose his conditioning ever again until he's through playing basketball."
The growth, however, is a toss-up, although they're expecting Jared to wind up as tall as 6-10 or 6-11.
"I remind myself he's only 14 years old," Sullinger said. "With some things you can't coach and you've just got to let go and let God take care of it."
God willing, Jared may be the best in a pretty good line of basketball players.