Hometown: Jackson, Mississippi
High School: Life Center Academy
Position: Forward (3)
The fifth member of the 2011 class, LaQuinton Ross is reportedly the most talented and athletic of the bunch. During summer workouts it was commented that Ross was easily the most ready of the class to play now. Unfortunately, he was declared an academic non-qualifier before the season started due to a snafu with the State of Mississippi’s grading system. Being declared a non-qualifier is far worse than being simply declared as ineligible. As a non-qualifier, Ross was no longer bound by his letter of intent and could be recruited again by other programs. That Ross is back speaks volumes both of his integrity, and of his desire to play with this team.
As a four star recruit (by Scout.com), Ross was highly recruited out of high school, picking up offers from names such as Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, and Syracuse. He was the 16th ranked player at his position, three spots behind Sam Thompson, and the 53rd ranked player in the ESPNU 150.
High School Film:
He’s #53 in Blue, followed by #1 in White, in the following video.
LaQuinton Ross is an extraordinarily talented player. He displays tremendous shooting skills at short, mid, and long ranges and can absolutely take over a game offensively. He’s capable in both the half-court offense and in transition and is incredibly athletic, displaying impressive finishes above the rim. His size gives him a unique advantage over most threes, and he can easily post smaller defenders. Lastly, his ball-handling in the open court is impressive, and is a skilled passer who readily dishes to an open teammate.
Things to Work on:
As talented as Ross is, his motor is not where it should be for a division 1 athlete. He will often seem to just go through the motions for stretches of a game and not put in the constant energy and effort needed on both ends of the floor. He’s not particularly strong for a three, and will need to increase his strength and toughness – particularly for Big Ten play. Ross also needs to work on his movement on offense without the ball, and on his perimeter defense as his lateral quickness is simply not there yet to keep up with many smaller players.
Role for the Team:
This is an interesting question considering where we are in the season. The Buckeyes stand at 7-0 running a (functionally) 7 man rotation against some decent competition (Florida, Duke). Now they get a player who coming into the season was expected to get plenty of playing time. What is Matta going to do with this sudden new look?
The answer greatly depends on what Ross does in practice. If he can demonstrate solid defensive prowess and a good motor, and most importantly show that he hasn’t fallen too far behind his teammates, you can bet Matta will find a way to work him into the lineup. If, on the other hand, Ross seems to have lagged a bit, then you can bet that Matta will keep him on the bench and run him with guys like JD Weatherspoon and Sam Thompson.
Incidentally, let me take a break here and say that seeing Weatherspoon, Thompson, and Ross on the court at the same time would have to be one of the most exciting lineups I can imagine. That would be a high-flying act that simply has never been seen in Columbus. Count me in as someone who desperately wants to see this happen.
You may hear many comparisons of Ross to former Buckeye Evan Turner. Given his scouting report, that should come as no surprise. Even his weaknesses, such as his motor not going 100%, are right in line with Turner when he arrived at Ohio State. That said, don’t expect Ross to be another Naismith trophy winner – that’s simply an unfair level of expectation for a young player.
Ultimately, it will be fun to watch Ross try to learn the ropes and earn his way onto the court this season. Whether he breaks into the regular lineup or not will have to be seen, but he certainly has the talent to do it.