Always learning, Jared Sullinger worked on coaching resume during TBT with Carmen's Crew

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch
Carmen's Crew head coach Jared Sullinger looks for a call against The Money Team in the first quarter of their game during the Columbus Regional of the 2021 The Basketball Tournament at Covelli Center in Columbus, Ohio on July 27, 2021.

With a lifetime’s worth of basketball experience already in his veins, Jared Sullinger knows the highs and lows of the game. He’s seen them as a player, one whose time on the professional stage might not yet be complete, and he’s experienced them as a coach.

Staring at the upper reaches of the Covelli Center last Tuesday night, the coach version of Sullinger was still coming to grips with what had just happened. And after an 18-point third-quarter lead had disappeared, leading to a bitter 91-89 loss for Carmen’s Crew in The Basketball Tournament, some of those lows for the former Ohio State player and longtime NBA veteran seemingly flashed behind his eyes.

It wasn’t a Final Four, or an NBA playoff game, but his one was felt on a personal level.

“You feel like it’s all your fault because you’re pulling the strings, you’re calling the calls,” Sullinger told The Dispatch immediately after the loss to The Money Team.

Now in his third year of coaching the Ohio State alumni team for TBT, Sullinger has experience both on the court and the sideline for the annual event. After falling short in the final four during the 2018 event, Sullinger’s first experience coaching Carmen’s Crew culminated in a 2019 championship.

From there, he was resolute: no more playing in TBT, only coaching. With plans of being a full-time coach once his playing career comes to a close, experiences like these are laying a foundation for Sullinger.

“(These games) lay the foundation down tremendously just because you learn how to cope through defeat,” he said. “You learn how to cope through victories. You know how to cope through scouting reports and all that good stuff. This situation just gives me time and effort to be able to be the best coach I can be when it comes to that situation.”

Those lessons are coming while surrounded by some of his closest friends and former teammates, most of whom are older than Sullinger. On this year’s roster, only Shannon Scott and Keyshawn Woods were younger than the coach, and Scott only by a few months. After the loss, Sullinger went into the locker room and simply thanked his fellow former Buckeyes for letting him coach them.

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Scott, in his first year playing for Carmen’s Crew, said Sullinger is “up there” with any of the coaches he’s ever played for during a career that has lasted more than half a decade at the professional level.

“He doesn’t think about how he would do something, he thinks about what guys he has and how those guys can be successful,” Scott said. “He’s real smart, real intelligent, has a great basketball IQ.”

After the loss, Sullinger said he planned to watch some film to see what he did wrong with an eye on improving for next year’s TBT. His wife is due with a child this fall, and he’s put his professional career on hold until the family is fully settled.

The ties to his father, Satch, are obvious. The national coach of the year while at Northland, the elder Sullinger was courtside for this latest Carmen’s Crew loss offering a hug and some advice. It’s a profession that runs deep in the family and one the younger Sullinger has put serious thought into before considering it as a full-time job.

Sullinger feels ready for it. Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann agrees, while noting he would need a college degree in order to coach for the Buckeyes.

“Jared is tremendous,” Holtmann said. “He brings a wealth of knowledge, great feel for the game. I love Jared and what he brings. I think he’s got a really bright future if he does decide to be a professional coach.”

Stay tuned.

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy