Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bottom Line: Jared Sullinger Excited for Opportunity with Toronto Raptors

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bottom Line: Jared Sullinger Excited for Opportunity with Toronto Raptors

Article excerpt

Jared Sullinger couldn't pass on Raptors


BURNABY, B.C. - Jared Sullinger cracks a wide smile before delivering a theory on what makes him a good rebounder.

"Barbara Sullinger, that's the reason," he said, referencing his mother. "My ability to root people out (is) my posterior.

"My mom doesn't mind. She loves it."

Sure, genes and a low centre of gravity have something to do with it for the six-foot-nine, 260-pound big man, but as one of the newest members of the Toronto Raptors joined teammates for the club's first training camp session Tuesday, Sullinger added it also takes a certain type of player to want to bang bodies in the NBA paint night after night.

"Rebounding is the most selfish thing you can (do) for a basketball team," he said. "Nobody's going to get mad if you just get every rebound. You won't hear any teammate yell at you, cuss you out or get mad about you taking every rebound.

"You've got to be selfish. The more selfish you are, the more helpful you are. It's almost being selfish to selfless."

The Ohio State product averaged a career-high 8.3 rebounds a game in 2015-16 with the Boston Celtics to go along with 10.3 points and 2.3 assists before inking a one-year deal with Toronto in the off-season.

Sullinger -- who would have finished second on the Raptors in rebounds per game with those numbers -- said signing with Toronto after the club made it all the way to last season's Eastern Conference finals just felt right.

"It's a winning culture," said the 24-year-old, adding that he turned down more money and longer term elsewhere. "Look at the guys that are here. You want to be a part of that."

The 21st pick at the 2012 NBA draft, Sullinger said he picked the brain of Celtics teammate Amir Johnson, a former Raptor, before making the switch.

"Amir's one of my favourite teammates of all time," said Sullinger, a native of Columbus, Ohio. "He really doesn't care about stats. He just cares about winning. With that type of attitude, and everything he said about Toronto and the love he has for the city, organization and the people in general, it was really just a no-brainer."

Sullinger said he expects his role will be slightly different than it was during his four years with the Celtics as he looks to form chemistry with guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, as well as centre Jonas Valanciunas early on. …

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