Jared Sullinger says he will return

NEWARK, N.J. -- Here, then, Ohio State fans is your silver lining: Jared Sullinger says he is coming back.

Sitting in the Ohio State locker room following the top-seeded Buckeyes' 62-60 loss to Kentucky, the freshman said he would not be entering his name for the NBA draft and would return for his sophomore season.

"I'm going to be an Ohio State Buckeye next year," he said. "This isn't why I came here, to come in here and see my seniors in here crying. I came here to win a national championship."

Plenty of people make pledges in the rubble of an emotional loss only to change their mind later, when the sting and suddenness of the season fades and the promise of the NBA looms.

Sullinger, who had 21 points and 16 rebounds in his final game of the season, insists that won't happen.

"I'm a man of my word," Sullinger said. "I don't change my word and no one changes it for me. This is what I want."

Sullinger said he made the decision following the game, but coach Thad Matta said it's the message Sullinger has been sending to him all season.

"Oh he's been telling me that all along," Matta said. "And I believe it. He told me, draw me up a contract, whatever you need to do. I believe him when he says it."

Sullinger, who averaged 17.1 points and 10 rebounds, was the Big Ten freshman of the year.

Dana O'Neil is a senior writer for ESPN.com.