If you don’t know the story of LaQuinton Ross, he’s one of the most intriguing players in the country.
The 6-foot-8 forward was once considered the best basketball player in his class, considered by many to be a future NBA all-star and a sure-fire lottery pick one day. But as his high school career continued, he slowly but surely dropped in the recruiting rankings before eventually ending up at Ohio State as an afterthought in their 2012 recruiting class.
Academic issues forced Ross to sit out the first semester, and since Thad Matta’s rotation had already been established, he played little more than garbage time throughout much of the season.
It would have been enough to get a lot of kids in this day and age to transfer, but Ross wasn’t going anywhere. He decided to stick it out at Ohio State, and Matta decided to stick it out with Ross even when he didn’t play well early in the season, and it paid off for both parties. Ross had his coming out party in the NCAA tournament, scoring 53 points in Ohio State’s last three games and hitting the game-winning three against Arizona, reminding the nation just how talented he can be.
And while he renewed interest from NBA scouts, Ross appears to be leaning towards returning to school.
“I’m coming back (to Ohio State) next year,” Ross said. “Right now, I really haven’t thought about next season. I really haven’t thought about that. I’ve only been focused on this year.”
If he does end up returning, Ross will find his way onto quite a few breakout star lists.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.
Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.
Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.
Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.
Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.
Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).
In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.