Ohio State freshman Jared Sullinger has emerged as a national player of the year candidate for the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes, who carry a 16-0 mark into Wednesday night's clash with rival Michigan.
The 6-foot-9, 280-pound product of Northland is averaging 17.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, leading all Big 10 freshmen in both categories.
It doesn't come as much of a surprise for those that have followed the big post through the years. He posted 23.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game as a senior at Northland to earn MaxPreps.com first team All-American honors. The Vikings went 50-2 during his final two seasons.
The surprise is just how quickly his old high school team has moved on without him.
Northland (Columbus, Ohio)
improved to 7-0 Tuesday night with a 43-41 win over Brookhaven (Columbus)
, extending a streak of league victories that dates back to February of 2006 to 62 games. But the Vikings' signature performance of the young season came Saturday at the Cancer Research Classic in Wheeling, W.Va., where they delivered a 63-54 defeat to storied Rice (New York, N.Y.)
"Jared is not one you are going to replace," said Northland head coach Satch Sullinger, also the father of the Vikings' departed star. "But I knew we were talented. A lot of our talent was overlooked because of Jared. We are starting four juniors, but they are responding well and we are going to be good for a while."
Taking the go-to role from Sullinger has been Michigan-bound senior Trey Burke
, who scored 22 points against Rice and is averaging 23.5 points, 6.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game.
"He is a winner," Satch Sullinger said. "He is going to do whatever it takes to win. He loves to play defense and play hard, he is our engine."
Northland also touts a pair of 6-foot-8 juniors in Jalen Robinson
and Devon Scott
. The twin towers are making life difficult for opponents and producing at a collective rate of 23.2 points and 15 rebounds per game.
"They are both doing a great job," Sullinger said. "Devon Scott is lights out right now defensively, offensively and rebounding. Last night he dove into the stands for a ball. When you have a 6-8 kid doing that, it pushes everybody to give the same kind of effort."
Robinson is the more highly-recruited of the two at this point and committed to West Virginia as a sophomore before opening up his recruitment.
Guard Jordan Potts
(7.1 points per game) and Kechaun Lewis
are the other juniors in the starting lineup for the Vikings.
Northland will try and avoid a similar path to last year's team, which went 23-0 and was ranked No. 2 nationally by MaxPreps.com before falling in shocking fashion to Lincoln (Gahanna)
in Ohio's Division I regional finals. Tuesday night's close call against Brookhaven was a reminder of that disappointing night, according to Sullinger.
"We can't live in the past. We have to stay in the future," Sullinger said as he prepared to watch Jared and the Buckeyes take on Michigan. "Last night made the past rear its ugly head a little bit. Last night was a wake-up call. We have to understand how important every game is."
Familiar names among scoring leaders
Several Top 100 talents are among the national scoring leaders, according to statistics provided to MaxPreps.
of Oregon-Davis (Hamlet, Ind.)
, a 6-1 junior guard, tops the list of reported scorers at 42.7 points per game. Outside of a 55-point outburst against 21st Century Charter (Gary)
, Richie has been very steady with between 40 and 49 points in seven of nine games this season.
Incredibly, cousin Austin Richie
is Indiana's No. 2 scorer at over 37 points per game according to The Times of northwest Indiana. Lowell has not reported statistics to MaxPreps.com.
Another non-Top 100 player but well-known name putting up huge numbers is Chase Fischer
of Ripley (W.Va.)
, a Wake Forest signee. Fischer is pouring in 39.9 points per game and had a pair of 50-point games within six days of each other in mid-December.
From the 2013 class (which won't have a Top 100 until the end of the season), potential blue-chipper of Chris Thomas
of Princeton Day Academy (Lanham, Md.)
is piling up 34.9 points per game. Thomas is a 6-5 point guard originally from Denver and a surefire Top 10 pick in the sophomore class.
On to the rest of the Top 100 stars among the Top 50 scorers in the nation;2011
34.9 (No. 8 nationally) – Trevor Lacey
, Butler (Huntsville, Ala.)
/ No. 22 in MaxPreps.com 2011 Top 100
33.5 (10) – David Gardner
, Okolona (Miss.)
/ No. 72
32.9 (12) – D'Angelo Harrison
, Fort Bend Dulles (Sugar Land, Texas)
/ No. 50
31.0 (22) – Jahii Carson
, Mesa (Ariz.)
/ No. 31
29.2 (34) – Julien Lewis
, La Marque (Texas)
/ No. 62
29.1 (35) – Austin Rivers
, Winter Park (Fla.)
/ No. 22012
31.1 (20) – Michael Frazier
, Plant (Tampa, Fla.)
/ No. 30Hoophall Classic, Bass Pro headline weekend
Springfield is the place to be this weekend for high school basketball fans in both Massachusetts and Missouri.
Springfield, Mass., is the site of the four-day Spalding Hoophall Classic extravaganza, which features nine nationally-ranked teams at Blake Arena on the campus of Springfield College. The most highly-anticipated game has Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)
putting its No. 1 ranking on the line against No. 11 Milton (Ga.)
Springfield, Mo., will host the 27th annual Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions at Missouri State University.
The field is wide open with perhaps a slight nod to Oak Ridge Military Academy (Oak Ridge, N.C.)
, which could lock down a spot in next week's Xcellent 25 with a tournament victory.
Check back for an in-depth preview of both events tomorrow.