Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner officially became teammates for the first time on Monday when Turner finally inked a two-year contract that made him a member of the Celtics. It’s been a long time coming, however, and the two are excited to finally share the floor while wearing the same uniform.
While Sullinger was a freshman standout at Ohio State, it’s often forgotten that Turner would have been a senior on that team had he not left the Buckeyes a season early to enter the NBA draft. Despite never having the chance to team up in Columbus, the two are old friends that often work out together at Ohio State in the offseason.
At Celtics media day on Monday, Sullinger was asked whom he thought the best former Buckeye on the team was, and his answer was somewhat surprising.
“You have to give it to Evan, just because he won national player of the year,” Sullinger humbly proclaimed. “But I also went further than him in the tournament. He did three [years] and I did two, let’s just put it that way,” Sullinger added with a smile.
Sullinger then offered his opinion on what we can expect now that he is teammates with Turner.
“He brings a multidimensional-type player. Honestly, he’s a great basketball player,” Sullinger offered. “He can do a lot of things, he can play the point [guard], play two [guard], play three [small forward]. I think in the NBA you have to have multiple guys that play multiple positions in order for a team to win, and I think Evan brings that.”
Sullinger was asked if he played any role in influencing Danny Ainge to bring Turner to Boston or if he had offered any type of scouting report on his fellow Buckeye.
“No, you pretty much know the scouting report on Evan, everybody does,” Sullinger responded. “If you go one year through the NBA, playing a lot of minutes, I think from the owners down everybody knows your scouting report and what type of player you are.”
When asked why he thinks he will fit well in Boston, Turner was quick to mention that he has known Sullinger for years and that it was something that made him feel comfortable here. However, much of the focus on Turner was regarding him being the No. 2 overall pick just four years ago and the expectations that go along with that.
“Too much is given, much is expected, which is the way of life,” Turner said about living up to his draft stock. “One thing I always have to say is that I’m going to get better every year. Look at each past year and the year before and I feel like I’ve made jumps.”
Turner said his adjustment to the Celtics will be much easier since he will be starting the season in Boston rather than what he went through in being traded during the season in 2013-14, going from the 76ers to the Pacers.
“Joining a team midseason, my eyes were kind of wide open,” Turner explained. “I tried to learn on the fly, tired to get a rhythm on the fly, that was a big turn for me. I tried my best to fit in and do what I possibly could to contribute to the squad.”
But when speaking on getting familiar with the pieces in place in Boston, Turner was much more optimistic.
“I’ve played pickup with these guys a few times and I’m decently familiar,” Turner said. “Coach [Brad] Stevens and I speak a lot on system and stuff and make sure I’m familiar and that’s pretty much it.”
Added Turner with a smile: “That’s what training camp’s for, right?”
Turner, Sullinger and the Celtics will begin training camp on Tuesday at the team’s practice facility in Waltham.
Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow