LaQuinton Ross didn’t make the best impression at his first job interview six weeks ago. He quite possibly could not have made a worse one.
Whether Ross is one of the 60 players selected in the NBA draft tonight could speak to how lasting an impression it was. Or whether, in his private workouts with teams since then, he was able to erase it with an innate ability to make shots and take advantage of a God-given wingspan that is 6 inches longer than he is tall.
Ross’ former Ohio State teammate, point guard Aaron Craft, also will hope to hear his name called tonight as coach Thad Matta’s program tries to extend to eight years its streak of having a player taken in the draft.
Ross, a long and lean-looking 6-foot-71/2 wing who led Ohio State in scoring and rebounding as a junior, tipped the scales at a fraction under 239 pounds at the combine in mid-May. That was 14 pounds heavier than he weighed just two months earlier and made him the heaviest of the 13 small forwards there.
Moreover, Ross’ body fat was measured at 16.3 percent of his weight, the most of any of the 59 players invited to the combine. And he finished last or next-to-last in his position group in a series of running and jumping drills.
“I think he really shot himself in the foot,” former Ohio State point guard Scoonie Penn said. “There were already questions about his athletic ability and how it would translate to the next level, and then for him to test as poorly as he did and be in the type of shape he was in, it really hurt his stock.”
Still, Ross retained his reputation as a shot maker, even if he didn’t do that as well last season as many expected after he sizzled in the NCAA tournament the previous spring.
Spotting up outside the NBA three-point arc, on the move and off the dribble, he made 69 of 102 field-goal attempts (67.6 percent), including 55 of 80 threes (68.7 percent) in two days at the combine. Matta said he has heard that Ross also shot the ball well in some of his workouts since.
“People we’ve talked to have said that, skill-wise, he looked pretty good,” Matta said. He did “kind of what they thought he could do.”
Whether he has lost weight is uncertain. Ross did brief interviews after several of his workouts with 10 NBA teams but was not asked to address his combine numbers.
Neither Ross nor his agent has responded to requests from The Dispatch for interviews.
Ross left Columbus in early April to train in New York. A month later, shortly before the combine, ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford ranked him 35th among his top 100 players. Yesterday, Ford had Ross 70th, and in a sampling of seven mock drafts on NBA.com, only one had Ross being taken in the second round.
“It’s kind of the same thing that happened to William Buford a couple of years ago,” said longtime NBA player and current Big Ten Network analyst Jim Jackson, a former All-American at Ohio State.
“It’s unfortunate, especially if that’s the word going into the combine, when you have to take that opportunity to show your dedication and commitment and hard work before you get to a team. When you’re not there, that hurts you.”
Even if Ross is not drafted, though, he, like Craft, should get an opportunity to make a team as a free agent. By then, Jackson said, his NBA future will depend more on his consistency than conditioning.
“Even if it’s (only) five or eight or 10 points a night, teams want to know they’re going to get that every night, and with ‘Q’ at times, you just didn’t know,” Jackson said. “In a two- or three-game stretch, he could look like the player of the year in the conference, and then, in another three-to-five-game stretch, (he would have) no impact. The whole thing about ‘Q’ has just been his consistency.”