ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — One half credit is all that stood between Ricky Ledo and his collegiate eligibility.
Ruled as a partial qualifier by the NCAA, Ledo was able to practice with Providence College this past season, but couldn’t play for the Friars. Transferring between four different high schools in five years left the talented guard one half of a credit shy of qualification.
Ledo could have returned to Providence and played as a redshirt freshman next season, but he chose to enter the draft without playing a minute of college basketball. Normally that’s a recipe for a player to go undrafted, but Ledo is a consensus first-round pick.
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“Ricky Ledo is a very skilled basketball player,” Bucks director of scouting Billy McKinney said. “He shoots the ball extremely well, but his ability to create shots off the dribble is something that is going to work well in his favor in the NBA.”
Last Saturday’s workout with the Bucks was Ledo’s 13th. He’s on a mission to prove to teams he’s ready to play in the NBA despite not playing at all in college.
“I definitely feel like I have more to prove,” Ledo said. “I didn’t play college, and they all have a body of work, I don’t. That’s definitely what I have to prove. I have to prove that I belong and can compete with these guys.”
There’s no questioning Ledo’s confidence. He grew up playing with other first-round talents Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel and won’t back down from playing against anybody. As far as moxy, Ledo talks like a five-year veteran.
When asked who he models his game after, he said he wants to play like Penny Hardaway, but compares to Jamal Crawford.
“I think I’m the equal of anyone in this draft,” Ledo said. “I didn’t get to showcase what I can do this year, and I think if I did, I’d be considered one of the top guards in the draft. It speaks highly that I didn’t play a year and I’m still considered to be a first-round pick.
“I feel like I can hold my own against anyone. It doesn’t really matter who I play.”
The quotes may come off as arrogant, but his tone was far from it. He matured greatly in his year at Providence. Though Ledo would have loved to have contributed on the court, he still learned a lot about the game.
Ledo worked a lot with former NBA point guard and current Providence undergraduate student assistant coach God Shammgod, learning about pacing, timing and overall point guard skills.
He’s 6-foot-7 and prefers to play shooting guard, but Ledo understands his ability to play point guard makes him more attractive to NBA teams.
“It was a learning experience sitting down and watching,” Ledo said. “You see things before it is going to happen. You can see what you can improve on.
“(Sitting out) has and it will (help me). I feel sitting down makes you appreciate the game more because you practice every day with your teammates, but when they get ready for the game, you can’t. It definitely makes you appreciate the game and love it more.”
It was his confidence that led him to decide to turn pro. Providence was expecting Ledo back for next season, but he kept getting told he was a first-round pick by scouts. It was too much to pass up, though he hasn’t helped his label as a basketball gypsy.
“Through the year, I felt like I was going back to school just because of the bond me and my teammates had,” Ledo said. “It was definitely hard. It was the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my life. I thought long and hard about it. Toward the end of the year, that’s when I decided. I saw the draft and I saw the guards and I felt like I could match-up with any of these guys.
“There’s a lot of question marks about why I didn’t play and that I switched schools. Every time I switched schools there was a legitimate reason. I wasn’t kicked out or anything like that. Anyone in this draft, I feel like I can go up against anyone. I don’t see myself as less of a player than anyone in this draft.”
The Bucks were certainly pleased with what they saw in his workout. Draft Express has Ledo going 30th overall to Phoenix, where he said he had his best workout. NBADraft.net has him going 26th overall to Minnesota, while ESPN.com’s Chad Ford recently said he could see Ledo going as high as 16th overall to Boston.
“I think the more he works out, the more exposure he has to teams, the more people are going to like the things they see he’s capable of doing,” McKinney said. “You always like to have that body of work to be able to look at players with their schools, but we don’t have that with him. Everybody is trying to get a real quick glance at him.”
Between his 13 workouts and the combines, Ledo has been seen by most NBA teams. But with one week left before the draft, six workouts are still on the schedule.
“They have seen (the other prospects) in college, and they haven’t seen me,” Ledo said. “I haven’t played in a year. It’s essentially like I’m coming out of high school. For me to compete and compete at a high level with him, it shows that I’m a good player.”