December 22, 2010

Power rankings: Sullinger arrives

Rivals.com Power Rankings: PG | SG | SF | PF | C | Freshman | Head Coach

Ohio State freshman Jared Sullinger has wasted no time living up to the expectations that accompanied his arrival on campus.

In fact, he may be exceeding them.

Sullinger, a five-star recruit, set an Ohio State freshman record by scoring 40 points in a 75-64 victory over IUPUI on Dec. 9. Nine days later, he had 30 points and 19 rebounds in a 79-57 rout of South Carolina.

His recent surge has made Sullinger the new No. 1 center and No. 1 freshman in the Rivals.com College Basketball Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top performers at each position.

Sullinger's 14 defensive rebounds against South Carolina were the most ever by an Ohio State freshman, and his 19 total rebounds tied for the second-highest total ever by a Buckeyes freshman.

"I key in on rebounding," Sullinger told reporters after the game. "If I'm not rebounding, then I'm not playing hard. Nineteen rebounds. I was really into the game."

His early-season assault on Ohio State's freshman records is all the more remarkable because Sullinger isn't the first Buckeyes post player to make an instant impact. Four seasons ago, freshman center Greg Oden led Ohio State to the NCAA championship game in his only year on campus.

"He's had a lot thrown at him," Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said after the IUPUI game, "and I think he's done a tremendous job handling it all."

Sullinger used those monster performances against IUPUI and South Carolina to take over the No. 1 spot in the center rankings from Purdue's JaJuan Johnson, who scored 31 points Saturday in a 65-52 victory over Indiana State. Sullinger grabbed the top spot in the freshman rankings from Duke guard Kyrie Irving, who is out indefinitely with a toe injury.

There were no other changes atop the power rankings, which take into account results through Monday. Connecticut point guard Kemba Walker, Baylor shooting guard LaceDarius Dunn, Duke small forward Kyle Singler, Arizona power forward Derrick Williams and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski remained atop their respective positions.

While Sullinger's surge in the center and freshman categories represented the only changes at the top, there were plenty of shifts elsewhere in the rankings.

Irving, Memphis small forward Wesley Witherspoon and Virginia power forward Mike Scott fell out of the rankings after suffering injuries that could cause them to miss a significant length of time.

We also had a couple of notable position switches.

Pittsburgh's Ashton Gibbs moved from the point guard rankings to the shooting guard category because teammate Brad Wanamaker has emerged as the Panthers' main distributor this season. Wanamaker enters the point guard rankings this week. We also moved San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard from power forward to small forward, the position he's been playing most often this season.

The rankings measure overall performances as well as the past couple of weeks. Our next edition of the power rankings will be released Jan. 4. From that point on, we will release new versions of the rankings each Tuesday for the rest of the regular season.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.



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