Originally written on BuckeyeBanter.com  |  Last updated 4/4/12

Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger (0) sits on the court after losing to Kansas 64-62 in an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game Saturday, March 31, 2012, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

While this shouldn’t come as a shock, Ohio State’s two-time All-American forward, Jared Sullinger, announced he was foregoing his final two years of eligibility to enter this year’s NBA Draft at a press conference held at Value City Arena, Wednesday afternoon.

Sullinger averaged 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds a game while shooting 51.9 percent from the field, 40.0 percent from beyond the arc, and 76.8 percent from the free throw line as he led the Buckeyes to a 31-8 overall record, a Big Ten regular season title and a berth in the Final Four this season.

While his sophomore year stats are impressive, he fared just as well as a freshman. During the 2010-11 campaign, Sullinger averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds while connecting on 54.1 percent of his shots from the field. In his two seasons, Sullinger scored 1,282 points, which puts him 29th all-time in Buckeye basketball history, and his 717 rebounds places him 11th. Ohio State’s record was 63-10 when Sullinger was in the starting lineup.

According to various sources, Sullinger is expected to be a lottery pick and will likely be selected anywhere from fifth to 14th in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft coming up in June.

With Sullinger’s announcement, there are now at least two starters that will not return for next year as guard William Buford has used up his four years of eligibility.

The other Buckeye starter who might not return next season is forward Deshaun Thomas, who is currently looking into his NBA draft status and weighing his options with coach Matta. If Thomas files his paperwork for the draft this week, he would have until Tuesday to withdraw under NCAA rules. If he doesn’t file his paperwork, he can put off his official decision until April 29, the last day underclassmen can declare.

Point guard Aaron Craft and shooting guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. will return to the starting lineup next season, but who will fill the other spots?

If Thomas returns for his junior year, he’ll likely man either the “3″ or “4″ spot. This past season, he was a “4,” but you’ll have to figure where the other pieces fall into place. I’m going to assume that if Amir Williams continues to develop, getting bigger and stronger, he’ll take Sullinger’s spot as the “5.” That will leave one other roster slot open with the candidates being Evan Ravenel, Sam Thompson or LaQuinton Ross.

There’s also one problem. Matta’s recruiting class for 2012 is zero. While most of the top players have already submitted their National Letters of Intent during the early signing period, there are still some quality prospects who have scholarship offers from Ohio State and are still undecided.

Tony Parker, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound center from Lithonia, Ga., has Ohio State in his top three along with North Carolina and Duke. Parker is a four-star prospect according to Rivals.com.

Another is Emile Jefferson, a 6-foot-8, 197-pound forward from Friends Central School in Philadelphia, Penn. He’s also a four-star recruit by Rivals and has offers from Duke, N.C. State, Villanova and Ohio State.

Of course, if Matta whiffs on these or any other recruits, he can always go the junior college route, or he can pocket the two scholarships for the 2013-14 season.

It’s going to be real interesting to see who will be in uniform come November.

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