"This was my first time at WVU's campus. I had no idea what Morgantown was like, but it's just the ideal college campus. The facilities are unbelievable."
Ruoff toiled in relative anonymity at Central High School in Brooksville, Fla. until he enjoyed a breakout summer camp tour and an outstanding junior season in 2003-04. Ruoff grew four inches (he currently is 6-6 and 207 pounds), and lit up opponents with a double-double average of 22 points and ten rebounds per game. He also led his team in assists, blocks and steals, as well as in three-point and free throw shooting percentages.
Even with those impressive numbers (compiled against Class 4A competition in Florida) Ruoff still probably didn't get the attention he should have from many schools, and some of that is likely based on his decision not to continue with AAU play this summer. Although Ruoff says he got along well with his coaches and teammates, he said that the AAU style didn't really fit his game.
"In July I decided to stop playing AAU so I could concentrate on working out, lifting and working on my game," the straightforward Ruoff said. "With the style of play in AAU, it is tough to work on the team game, and I am a team player. It was fun while I did it, and I got to see good competition, but it wasn't for me."
While not playing AAU ball might keep a player of many teams' radar scopes, that wasn't the case at West Virginia. Mountaineer assistant coach Matt Brown, who spotted Ruoff at a Charlie Webber tournament, stayed with the fast-growing Floridian. Early visits from head coach John Beilein also helped, and kept the Mountaineers high on Ruoff's list throughout the recruiting process.
"Coach Beilein saw me play four different times, and he and Coach Brown were with me from the start," Ruoff recounted. "In July, interest really picked up, and I got offers from 15-20 other schools, but WVU was always in there. That, and the Big East, which is the best basketball conference in the country, were two of the main reasons for my decision."
Another factor in Ruoff's decision was the style of play at West Virginia. Central High School and WVU play very similar offensive styles, and Ruoff's current coach and coach-to-be are almost eerily similar.
"My high school runs a very similar offense - it's almost scary," Ruoff said. "We watched some video on Saturday morning during my visit, and they had clips of me in my high school games. Then, they showed me a clip of the shooting guards at WVU, and it was almost identical. We run so much of the same kind of stuff.
"Also, I play for a coach (John Sedlack) the style of coach Beilein, so I'm comfortable with him. They are both old school, and I like playing that style."
Ruoff will begin at WVU at the three position in 2005-06, but could well move to another spot later in his career.
"They think I can play two or the three," Ruoff said of early projections for his position. They will have two seniors at the two (Joe Herber and Patrick Beilein, so I will start out at the three, but I might move back there later in my career. I think that versatility was a big key in my recruiting."
Ruoff, who carries a sparkling 3.7 GPA and has already earned a 21 on his ACT, anticipates no trouble in qualifying. His final four choices were WVU, DePaul, UNCW and Miami of Ohio. He visited Miami of Ohio last week, and was scheduled to visit the other two schools in future weeks, but will cancel those visits and sign with WVU during the early signing period. He was offered by those four schools plus South Florida, St. Bonaventure, Old Dominion, and Kent State, among a number of others. He also had high interest from Florida State and Georgia.