On Monday, October 1st, Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo reported that the Sacramento Kings signed 6’6 wing Taren Sullivan to a training camp deal. The following day, The Athletic’s Kings reporter Jason Jones clarified that Sacramento signed the rookie to an Exhibit 10 contract with the prospect was expected to be on the Stockton Kings when the G League season begins in November.
The former DII wing didn’t really have any time to really get comfortable in his new location as Sacramento waived him on the following day to make room for UC-Santa Barbara alum Gabe Vincent.
Despite an early and quick release from Sacramento, Sullivan should still be an interesting player to keep an eye on when he starts his career with Stockton next month. Most of the intrigue regarding the 6’6 prospect comes from how he spent his college career with the University of Findlay, a small Division II school in Ohio.
He shined brightest during his last season with the team as he averaged 17.2 points, 6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game on 53% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc on 3.3 perimeter attempts per game. Those averages allowed him to maintain a 60% True Shooting Percentage and also be a member of the Division II All-American team.
Sullivan’s strong play continued into the summer as the wing participated in August’s NBA G League Player Invitational. In the event that featured a wide array of former Division I studs, he stood out as arguably the best prospect. In the event’s two scrimmages, as he averaged 18.5 points, 3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game on 14-22 from the field and 3-8 from 3.
That tremendous performance at the G League Player Invitational likely was the biggest contributing factor behind the Kings signing the young wing to that Exhibit 10 deal. Because while his play against Division II competition was fantastic, Sullivan used that time in Chicago to prove that he can outperform players that shined for more prestigious college teams.
Sullivan being able to do that is a testament to the hard work that he’s put into his craft. Although it’s obviously impossible to see that day-by-day grind, his training becomes apparent when you actually watch the 6’6 prospect play as his on-court poise and versatile offensive arsenal more resembles an older NBA rookie than a player on a small Division II school.
The highlight of Sullivan’s offensive arsenal with Findlay was his work in the low-post where he shined whether working in the left or right block. In either area, he looked like a veteran by exhibiting great poise and footwork. Alongside those two traits , the 6’6 wing also utilizes a pretty hook shot with either his left or right hand that was pretty efficient. While his hook shot is dangerous, Sullivan’s work in this area is headlined by a great fadeaway jumper that’s impossible to defend against.
Speaking of areas where he shined, the Findlay alum was a great perimeter shooter during his senior year as he shot 42% from beyond the arc on 3.3 attempts per game. That solid 3-point percentage allowed him to be the most efficient small forward in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. Whether he’s working in catch-and-shoot or off-the-dribble, Sullivan is able to impress because of a solid jumper that has range that spreads even beyond the NBA 3-point line.
One downside to Sullivan’s approach is that he’s not the quickest in catch-and-shoot as it takes a few extra milliseconds for him to get his footing down after he gets done rolling around screens. Obviously, that’s just a small nitpick as he’s otherwise a fantastic outside shooter.
The last offensive trait that Sullivan excels at is facilitating. During his final year with Findlay, he averaged 3.2 assists per game with a solid 1.6 Ast/TO ratio. Most of those assists came when the 6’6 player was working on the perimeter as he was great at dishing it to off-ball cutters. He’s fantastic at that particular task as Sullivan does a great job of keeping his head up and waiting for one of his teammates to cut to the rim. Once that recognition occurs, he’s able to throw precise bounce passes that’s able to hit his target in stride.
One area where Sullivan will need to develop while in the G League is as an on-ball driver. Because during his time at Findlay, he rarely drove to the paint as he seemed more comfortable with either sticking in the low-post and on the perimeter. Whether that was more a product of Findlay’s offensive game plan or Sullivan’s flaws is debatable, but the young wing will need to utilize the G League to become a better on-ball driver if he wants to improve his chances of being a legitimate NBA prospect.
While the Association may be seem too lofty of a goal for a former Division II prospect, the 6’6 and 220 pound forward both has the frame and offensive skill-set that teams look for. At this point, he’s already established himself as a solid low-post threat and perimeter shooter. In addition to that, he has real point forward potential due to his solid court vision.
Although he’ll need to use the G League to improve as an on-ball driver, his other traits should allow him to at least be a solid part of the Stockton Kings’ rotation. If he can do that while showing some growth as an on-ball driver, there’s a definite possibility that Taren Sullivan will be the 2018-19 version of Jaylen Morris.