Junior forward LaQuinton Ross will forego his final year of eligibility at Ohio State and enter the NBA Draft, according to sources of ESPN's Jeff Goodman. Ross’s decision comes just four days after the Buckeyes’ were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by Sweet 16-bound Dayton.
Ross started all 35 games last season, averaging a team-high 15.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He scored at least 20 points in eight games, including a career-high 26 against Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament. Ross failed to reach double figures in only seven games.
His NBA draft stock is markedly different depending on the scout, draft analysis or front office personnel. ESPN’s Chad Ford has Ross going in the first round, NBADraft.net has him going late in the second round and others don’t have Ross being selected at all.
Following Ohio State’s loss to Dayton, Ross said he would consult his family, coaches and draft advisors in deciding which direction to take his career. He also admitted the Buckeyes’ roster makeup would play a part in the decision-making process.
“Jared [Sullinger] knew what he was coming back to with a great system,” Ross said. “The year that Will [Buford] came back they brought in our class, so they knew they were going to have players around them.”
Ross didn’t believe he would have the same supporting cast in 2014-15, despite the return of Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott, Marc Loving and arrival of D’Angelo Russell and Keita Bates-Diop.
Ross becomes the second Ohio State player in three days to leave for the professional ranks. Reserve sophomore guard Amedeo Della Valle announced Saturday that he would pursue opportunities to play professionally in his native Italy.
In Thad Matta’s 10 years as head coach of Ohio State, he’s now lost 10 players to the pros – Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Daequan Cook, Kosta Koufos, Byron Mullens, Evan Turner, Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, Della Valle and Ross.
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is April 24.
Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross will declare for NBA Draft, sources told ESPN.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 24, 2014
UPDATE (3:35 P.M.): Ross, for his part, is denying the report and claiming he has yet to reach a decision:
To all the people tweeting me I haven't said anything so guys are wasting your time!! I didn't make a decision!— Astronaut Kid (@qross2011) March 24, 2014