Jared Sullinger Red Flagged for Back Issue
Jared Sullinger has been medically red flagged by NBA doctors, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford.
After undergoing medical testing at the 2012 NBA Draft Combine, Sullinger’s back has drawn concerns from a number of teams. Some teams are worried that Sullinger’s back issues could shorten his career and a number of front offices have been advised not to select Sullinger in the first round, according to ESPN.
Satch Sullinger, the prospect’s father, downplayed the back issue that caused his son to be red flagged.
“He had a bulging area that was due to his hamstring and quads being so tight,” Satch Sullinger told ESPN. “It pulled on his hip flexor and he’s been taking care of it to loosen it. You can call it a red flag if you want. But it’s tight hamstring and tight quads. He’s been to doctors, he’s doing yoga and deep tissue massage. The flexibility is helping take the pressure off the area. We’ve got nothing to hide. At this stage it’s all about what they can’t do. Jared is a skilled player. A two-time All-American. He can play.”
Sullinger’s agent, David Falk, wasn’t concerned and said that teams are aware of the issue.
“Jared has consulted with one of the foremost specialists of backs and spines, who has vast experience treating professional athletes,” Falk told SI’s Sam Amick. “He has explained to us that Jared had extremely tight hamstrings that became tight because he had suffered an injury that I don’t think he was aware of to his hamstring. He needs to maintain vigilance with his flexibility. And if he does that, and keeps his weight at an appropriate level, then he should have absolutely no problems over the next 15 years.”
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Thad Matta is also confident that Sullinger won’t be limited by his back.
“Jared is fine,” Matta told ESPN. “He’s moving better than I’ve ever seen him move.”
A medical red flag is serious and can cause a player to freefall down draft boards.
Last year, Josh Selby was red flagged for a knee issue, which caused him to slip to No. 49. Two years ago, Mikhail Torrance was climbing draft boards until he was red flagged for a heart condition, which caused him to go undrafted. Three years ago, DeJuan Blair was red flagged when tests at the combine revealed that he didn’t have ACL’s in either knee. Once projected as a lottery pick, Blair slipped to No. 37.
Teams get scared when they see that a player has been medically red flagged. Players who have been red flagged often slip into the second round because teams don’t want to give them a first-round guaranteed contract. Because of Sullinger’s talent and potential, there may be a team that’s willing to take a chance on him with a late first round pick.
Sullinger nearly entered last year’s NBA Draft, but decided to return to Ohio State for his sophomore season. He averaged 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds this year. He was projected as a lottery pick, but now his draft range is up in the air.