Decisions are judged in a nanosecond. Parents, kids, the president, Urban Meyer – everything they do is evaluated almost immediately. Three months after LaQuinton Ross left Ohio State following his junior season, his decision is still being discussed.
Right or wrong? A fair answer can’t be fully determined for multiple years. But Ross’s draft stock has plummeted from the beginning of the season to now. He was considered a first-round pick in November and has fallen all the way to late second round or undrafted status.
“I think it was the right time for me,” Ross said. “I had a pretty good year. I believe in going while you’re hot.”
Months of workouts for NBA front office personnel didn’t yield pleasing results for Ross – or general managers. Offensively, Ross is solid, but not great. His size and style are a dime a dozen in the NBA. There’s nothing in his game that sticks out and screams, “We have to have this guy.”
Ross has worked out for the Cavs, 76ers, Bulls, Jazz, Clippers, Suns, Wizards, Raptors, Timberwolves, Pistons, Grizzlies and Mavericks.
From the perimeter, Ross – 6-foot-7, 239 pounds – never shot better than 39 percent in a season. He averaged 36.4 percent from three-point range during his three-year career, a number that doesn’t translate to being a threat to opponents. There isn’t better consistency when trying to score off the dribble or posting up.
What Ross does possess is quickness and a freakishly long 7-foot-2 wingspan that could benefit him in a move from the 4 to the 3. At times, he’s able to use his speed and lanky frame to crash through the lane and get to the free throw line. When Ross careens into the lane, he can do so with power and grace.
“My size, being able to shoot and score the ball, I think I can help an NBA team in that department,” Ross said.
While he scored 15 points per game last season, Ross never took control in tense moments. Late in games, it was more common to see Aaron Craft or Lenzelle Smith Jr. take crucial shots instead of Ross. Embracing the go-to-guy role and letting shots fly is needed in the NBA – not looking lost.
Where Ross’s flaws blink repeatedly is on the defensive end. The term “liability” is probably used too often in basketball. But Ross fits the definition, with long stretches of poor effort and poor fundamentals. What’s more, he won’t match up well with bigger, athletic guards and forwards in the NBA.
Even as the NBA’s become a defensive-heavy league, there are still murmurs in the public about a lack of focus on defense. The comments are off base. It’s evident how much value is placed on defense when two of the top defenders in professional basketball are LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.
Ross didn’t do himself any favors by showing up to the combine with added weight – 14 pounds more than his final game at Ohio State. Several front office people believe it showed a lack of work ethic and poor attitude. If you’re the total package, you can get away with that – Ross can’t. He just seems to be missing that killer instinct that difference making players own.
The scenario is eerily similar to Deshaun Thomas prior to last year’s draft, though Thomas had more college success. Still, the two players’ skills are similar, with offense in vogue and defense out of style. Thomas was drafted by the Spurs late in the second round before being shipped off to France, where he averaged 12 points and four rebounds in helping guide his team to the French Cup championship.
And he did it all while being paid a hefty sum. It’s possible Ross is destined for the same career path.
Said Ross: “You only have to get one team to like you.”