It was a bit surprising when Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross decided that it was his time to shine in the NBA. The junior was coming off a poor performance in the NCAA tournament and had a rough time finding rhythm during his first regular season as the offensive go-to-guy for the Buckeyes.
Last year it was prolific scorer Deshaun Thomas who left Ohio State a season early to pursue his professional basketball dreams. Despite being drafted by the Spurs late in the 2nd round and having a great summer league, the Buckeye scoring machine ended up playing across the pond.
Now many are wondering where Ross fits across the NBA spectrum. While many will believe that he needs a bit more seasoning to be a NBA regular, some believe his potential could get him drafted somewhere in the second round.
Either way, he has a true knack with the basketball offensively.
Height: 6′ 7.5″
Wingspan: 7′ 1.75″
School: Ohio State
Hometown: Jackson, MS
Points Per Game: 15.2| Field Goal Percentage: 45% | Free Throw Percentage: 73% | Three Point Percentage: 35%
Rebounds Per Game: 6 | True Shooting Percentage: 54% | Offensive Rating 109.2
What separates LQR from many is his size and frame at small forward. He has some of the speed and quickness you need at small forward, but also brings a 6’8″ 240 pound frame to the dance with a 7’2″ wingspan. Does he use his size to his advantage by posting up or deflecting shots on the defensive end?
Not very often.
His fluid stroke was a life saver his junior season. Despite only scoring on 48% of his attempts in the paint, Ross was able to have a 55% true shooting percentage while shooting just 35% from three. What that means is he does a good job of getting to the free throw line when defended tightly.
He can also nail the triple. His stats don’t show it, but scouts and execs know his shot could translate to the NBA. At the NBA combine, he drained 16/25 from NBA range. ESPN’s Chad Ford reported last month that Ross worked out with Cleveland alongside C.J. Fair and Cleanthony Early and shot just under 80% from three.
Despite not having the best handle, Ross can glide to the basket with authority at times. He might not have separation speed, but he does have an ability to create enough space to make plays.
Ross has an NBA body and that is one of his top assets. If a team can tap out what it takes to improve his game, then he could develop into a valuable player over time.
There is no way to combat someone who doesn’t care. That might be the biggest downfall of LaQuinton Ross’ game as he heads into the personal ranks. He doesn’t seem to have the drive it takes to be the best he possibly can be. Some would even say that he lacks that killer instinct that all scorers have.
On the offensive side of things, it’s amazing how much he is able to do with such an undeveloped game. He lacks a true knack of getting to the lane and finishing. He doesn’t have any strong moves the basket. He is absolutely horrendous off the dribble when it comes to shooting.
He is also not known for his ability to distribute to teammates. That’s something he will consciously have to work on if he plans on sticking in the NBA.
On defense, he has improved after his junior year, but we really don’t know what we’re getting — because he will guard faster small forwards in the Association. At the college level, he played defense in the interior.
He must of been doing something right though, as Ohio State finished second in the nation in defensive efficiency.
To get a better feel for LaQuinton Ross, we reached out to The Buckeye Battle Cry‘s Ken Kohl to get a feel of how LaQuinton Ross will fare in the NBA:
LaQuinton Ross (LQR) emerged as a lead scorer for the Buckeyes this past season. His career at Ohio State was akin, at least to fans, to riding a roller coaster.
Despite a smooth-as-silk shooting stroke, LQR had a tendency to appear indifferent on the court at times. This was particularly annoying since he was on a team that didn’t have an abundance of good shooters/scorers, so he had to bring his full game every time the Buckeyes suited up.
For comparison, I compared LaQuinton’s senior year numbers to NBA small forward performance, courtesy of Yahoo Sports.
Note: Yahoo does not group many greats at small forward, such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant. They are listed as “forwards.”
Ranking among NBA Small Forwards
|FG %||44.7||Top 10|
Ross played 72% of game minutes for Ohio State this season. Granted, NCAA is not the NBA in terms of physical demands, but playing in the Big Ten is not far off. At He’s tough and has good stamina.
His metrics are pretty good compared to a “fake-comparison-of NBA-peers”, with his minutes played, scoring and rebounding being outstanding.
These numbers are hard to gauge for me. In one respect, because he was the primary scorer and front court player, he was required to more than if he were on a more balanced team. On the other hand, with his size and natural talents, these numbers should have been a minimum performance for him.
He was panned at times by fans for not being a good stout post defender. I didn’t think he was that good– however, in several matchups, his “forward” body had to guard bigger, stronger opponents, and the results were as you would have imagined.
Let’s be realistic; no NBA GM is going to draft LaQuinton as a defensive “stopper”. Ross’ game is offense.
LaQuinton did impress me with some development his senior year. He always had a good first step, to his right, on drives into the lane. He later developed a “not-too-bad” spin move to reverse back to his left.
Will it translate to NBA worthy? We’ll have to wait and see.
Later in his final season at Ohio State, Ross did show more aggressiveness in rebounding, offensively and defensively. Hopefully, LaQuinton can further develop a bit of an inside game to complement his wonderful outside shooting.
This tidbit was a bit troubling to me, per the Detroit Free Press. ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman published an NBA draft combine wrap-up from the happenings in Chicago last week.
I’m not quite sure who should get the blame, but there was plenty to go around with LaQuinton Ross and how he looked in Chicago. The talented forward reportedly left Columbus at around 225 pounds and 11% body fat about six weeks ago, then showed up in Chicago tipping the scales at nearly 240 and a combine-high 16% body fat.
Something is amiss here. I’m confused why LQR would show up at the draft combine in less than peak shape. To me, that would be like showing up at a job interview unshowered, unshaven and wearing a soiled shirt.
Yes, teams have game film and interviews to help guide them in their selections, but there is no need for compromising your draft position by not putting your best foot forward. Especially at small forward.
I do think that LaQuinton Ross will get drafted, preferably by a team that has a plan to further develop his game a little bit. He definitely has a big upside.
Thanks again to The Buckeye Battle Cry’s Ken Kohl for sharing his insight on Ross from an Ohio State Perspective
Fitting the Pistons Glove
It’s hard to see the Pistons taking Ross with the 38th pick, but he definitely could be a talent that they sign as an undrafted free agent or keep an eye on if he goes overseas and performs extremely well. If he wasn’t selected, he could be a prime candidate to give a look at during the Orlando Summer league.
Ross believes he’s best suited to play the small forward position in the NBA instead of the stretch four. Yet he came into the combine in the worst shape of his life.
It’s hard picture Stan Van Gundy selecting the biggest slacker in the combine after preaching how important discipline is in his first month at the helm.
LaQuinton Ross has the tools to be a great offensive player in this league. There is no doubt that he could become a weapon for many teams in this league solely on his pure intangibles.
He has to be willing though to take the next step in getting better in the NBA. For most that process is a long and bumpy road full of potholes and major detours.
It’s unclear whether Ross is willing to take that route.