Ross Bounced Back From Injury

Ohio State landed a signature from four-star prospect LaQuinton Ross on Sunday, ending his recruiting process. Ross' AAU coach talks to BuckeyeSports.com about what went into the decision, why he signed when he did and what kind of player the Buckeyes are receiving.

Ohmar Carter has known LaQuinton Ross since the latter was nine years old. Having watched Ross grow as a basketball player while serving as his AAU coach, Carter is uniquely qualified to discuss the merits of the recent Ohio State signee.

What Carter sees is a big-time player with the ability to leave college after one season. What he also sees is a four-star prospect who had the potential to be a bigger recruit if not for a serious ankle injury suffered during the summer after his sophomore high school season.

"(Ross) was the No. 1 player in the country until he got injured," the coach told BuckeyeSports.com. "The thing that hurt him was he was out for 2½ months with the injury and he tried to come back too early and the scouts really gave him a hard time about it. they told him that he lost his drive."

During the winter of 2008, Scout.com rated Ross the No.3 overall prospect in the nation. The injury came during an AAU game. As Ross went up for a dunk, an opponent gave him a push that caused him to land awkwardly. The diagnosis was a Grade III ankle sprain that forced them to pop Ross' ankle back into place as he was on the court.

Had he simply broken the ankle, Carter said, things would actually have gone better.

"He had torn ligaments and everything," the coach said. "When he went through that process, he dropped. His whole thing this past summer once he got healthy was to dominate and show everybody. He led us in scoring right under 30 a game and in rebounds with 11 rebounds a game. He had great performances against top players in the country."

The Buckeyes did not alter their pursuit of Ross, however, and they landed a verbal commitment August 16. The decision was reached without having ever set foot on OSU's campus, however.

When the early signing period kicked off Nov. 10, Ross elected not to sign until after taking a visit that upcoming weekend to Columbus. Once he got a feel for the campus, he signed and became the fourth official member of OSU's class of 2011.

"I think Ohio State, he's going to help Ohio State and Ohio State is going to help him," Carter said. "I don't think that he'll be a kid that is going to go there and disappoint anybody."

Until he signed, rumors swirled concerning Ross' future. Carter said he heard the whole gamut, from the fact that Ross was signing with Mississippi State to the fact that he would be heading overseas. Through it all, however, Carter said Ross never wavered on his verbal commitment.

"There were all kinds of rumors out there, bur (Ross) stayed solid on what he wanted to do and he communicated it with his circle and kept everything quiet," the coach said. "He was very comfortable with where he wanted to go."

Carter said Ross and current OSU freshman Jared Sullinger are already familiar with each other thanks to their time on the AAU circuit and the two have discussed playing together next season. Sullinger is projected as a potential one-and-done player.

"Jared has told him that he's not in a rush, that he wants to win a national title," Carter said. "That was one of the pushes for (Ross) to come was Jared and (Ross) saying that together they'd win a national championship if it's not done by the time he gets here."

According to Matta, the Buckeyes first learned of Ross when he was an eighth-grader from Mississippi.

"When he was in eighth grade I saw him at the Nike camp and somebody said, ‘Hey, you need to recruit this kid,' " Matta said. "I said, ‘He's from Mississippi. We're not going to be able to get him.' So times have changed at Ohio State."

Ross picked the Buckeyes because "Ohio State plays with big guards," Carter said. "They allow those guys to play. They run a pro-style offense and they're able to handle the ball. At 6-8, he will be able to use his ball-handling and his shooting to his potential in (head coach Thad Matta's) offense."

Scout rates him a four-star prospect and the No. 15 small forward in the nation. As a junior at Burlington (N.J.) Life Center Academy, Ross averaged around 17 points and eight rebounds a game.


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