NBA draft hopeful and Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger has been medically red flagged by NBA doctors, multiple league sources told ESPN.com on Monday.
Sullinger, who is projected to be a lottery pick in the 2012 NBA draft, underwent a series of medical tests at the NBA draft combine a week ago.
According to sources, the doctors who looked at Sullinger were concerned with Sullinger's back. Sullinger's agent, David Falk, when reached via phone by ESPN.com said that he was not in a position to comment on the story. Sullinger's father, Satch Sullinger, said he believes the issue isn't that serious.
"He had a bulging area that was due to his hamstring and quads being so tight," Satch Sullinger told ESPN.com senior college basketball writer Andy Katz in a phone call Monday afternoon. "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."
A number of NBA team doctors have reviewed the information from the NBA and have told their front office staff that Sullinger's back issues could shorten his NBA career and some have advised their teams not to draft him in the first round.
In 2009, Pittsburgh's and current San Antonio Spur DeJuan Blair was also red flagged by the NBA when medical tests at the NBA combine revealed he didn't have ACL's in either knee.
At the time Blair was projected as a late lottery pick. He slid all the way out of the first round and fell into the laps of the Spurs and eventually become a solid role player for San Antonio.
Despite the red flag, it will not be surprising if an NBA team gambles into drafting him during the first round. Sullinger stands at 6-foot-9, and certainly has the skills to be a good player in the NBA if he can stay healthy.
With most teams probably having second thoughts, Sullinger, could fall out of the lottery and even possibly out of the first round (similar to what happened to Blair in 2009).
If that happens, should the Spurs try to move up in the draft and take their chances on the Ohio State standout?
Share us your thoughts.
(Photo via bleacherreport.com)