It's Official: LaQuinton Ross to the NBA

By Kyle Rowland on March 28, 2014 at 2:57 pm

After days of reports and speculation, Ohio State made it official Friday: junior forward LaQuinton Ross will forego his senior season of eligibility and make himself available for the NBA draft. 

ESPN and the Columbus Dispatch reported Ross's decision earlier in the week. His high school coach indicated to the Dispatch that the news wouldn't be made public by the university until a prepared statement was done. 

Ross started all 35 games last season, averaging team highs in points (15.2) and rebounds (5.9) per game. He scored at least 20 points in eight games, including a career-high 26 against Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament, and only failed to reach double figures on seven occasions.

“My experience at Ohio State has been incredible,” Ross said in a statement. “Coach Matta, my teammates and the staff were amazing to work with on a daily basis.  My goal has always been to play at the next level and I believe now is the best time.”

Ross becomes the second Ohio State player in a week to leave the team. 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.

“LaQuinton was an instrumental part of our success over the last three years,” Matta said. “His goal is to compete at the highest level possible. He will have that opportunity because of the work he has put in to prepare for this day. He will be missed at Ohio State and we wish him nothing but the very best.”

Ross's NBA draft stock is on both ends of the spectrum. ESPN’s Chad Ford has Ross going in the first round, has him going late in the second round and others don’t have Ross being selected at all.

Following Ohio State’s NCAA Tournament loss to Dayton, Ross said he would consult his family, coaches and draft advisors in deciding which direction to take his career.

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is April 24.

The Buckeyes could also add a body before the start of next season. Temple power forward Anthony Lee, a graduate transfer, has Ohio State on his top five, which also includes Indiana, Iowa State, Louisville and Notre Dame. 

Lee, 6-foot-9 and 230 pounds, started 27 games last season for the Owls and averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. He will be eligible to play immediately. 

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