BOSTON -- J.J. Sullinger became like an older brother to Evan Turner when he entered Ohio State University. In turn, Turner developed the same kind of relationship with J.J.'s younger sibling, Jared. Five years later, the former Buckeyes are seeing their bond play out on the NBA court.
Turner met Jared when they were 18 and 15. The Illinois native joined the Ohio State basketball team in 2007, and J.J., who graduated the previous year, took him under his wing. Through Turner's time around the Sullinger family, he took on the big brother role with Jared that J.J. had with him. He enjoyed the combination of Jared's fierce competitiveness and laidback attitude, mixed in with a feisty sense of humor that often included instigating a joke or prank.
"I was always in Columbus Ohio, so I would always go to his game, hang out with the Sully's. They were like fam," Turner told CSNNE.com prior to Sunday's Celtics-Sixers preseason game. "I would go to Jared's games, pick him up, go to the movies back in high school."
Jared was a standout at Northland High School, a team he would lead to a 21-0 record in his senior year. Turner noticed he had a strong physical presence and an even stronger knowledge of the game.
"One thing I've always said about Jared is, he's smart," said Turner. "His IQ is unreal. He was so far ahead of all the big men due to the simple fact that he just knew how to play and use his body."
Turner saw this skill in action when Jared joined a group of OSU players and alumni for a game over the summer. 2007 first overall draft pick Greg Oden had finished his rookie season in the NBA, and Jared paid no attention to the seven-footer's accomplishments.
"I saw him go up against Greg Oden when he was 16 or 17," Turner recalled. "He was destroying Greg Oden, holding his own against him because he knew how to play."
Turner left Ohio State after his junior year and entered the 2010 NBA Draft, where the Philadelphia 76er selected him with the second pick. Even though some worried how the Buckeyes would make up for Turner's 15 points, seven rebounds, and four assists per game, the guard knew his alma matter would be in good hands.
"I told them Jared's going to come in and average 18 and 10, and he did," said Turner. "I already knew he was going to be a big talent player."
Unlike Turner, Jared fell out of the lottery in the NBA Draft. This summer the Celtics selected him with the 21st pick. He has already earned himself significant preseason minutes at only 20 years old on a veteran team. Turner faced him twice in preseason action and says nothing has changed about Sullinger in a good way.
"One thing smart about him is, he's still the same person," said Turner. "People try to go to the league and change their game. He knows how to rebound, he knows how to play, and he's humble enough to take orders and take advice from the veterans that he has. He's got everything going for him now and he's going to have a big, big year."