Colby Ross was a lightly recruited Eaglecrest basketball star who defied critics for becoming one of the greatest all-purpose point guards in NCAA history.
NBA draft decision-makers can cast doubt on him at their own risk.
“I’ve proven myself every time,” Ross said. “I am just happy, grateful and blessed to be in this position.”
After an illustrious four-year career at Pepperdine, Ross is First player in men’s Division-I basketball With at least 2,200 points, 800 assists and 400 rebounds. Yet his name is nowhere to be found in most NBA mock drafts, with both rounds scheduled Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. He is considered a second-round prospect, but is mentally prepared to enter the league as a free agent.
“Draft or undraft, all I want to do is just stay in the NBA longer,” Ross said. “It’s just a starting point.”
This is familiar territory to Aurora natives.
Ross led Eaglecrest to the 2017 Class 5A State Championship as a senior, and was named Mr. Basketball by The Denver Post. Ross earned the Gatorade State Player of the Year honor twice. But CU and CSU refused to give scholarship.
“(Ross) was basically the same player in high school that he was in college — he did everything for us,” said John Olander, retired basketball coach at Eaglecrest. “A lot of schools didn’t know if he was athletic enough or if he shot it well.”
Ross signed with mid-major Pepperdine and started in 125 career games, averaging 17.9 points, 6.8 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals.
“Their work ethic, attention to detail and competitiveness were off the charts,” said Waves head coach Lorenzo Romer.
Ross did this even against the best of the competition.
Two of his top four best-scoring performances came against Power Five schools. Ross dropped 38 at USC and 33 against UCLA. He once dismissed 11 assists vs. California. He averaged 17.1 points in games against conference foe Gonzaga.
That gave Ross the confidence to enter NBA pre-draft workouts for a handful of teams this summer—including the Hornets, Nuggets, Spurs, and Wizards. Ross paid close attention to the elite players from the big school who had joined him during those seasons. Recruiting stars and past accolades no longer mattered.
“I was really excited to workout with him every time,” Ross said. “I knew it was my chance to show that I was better than these guys. I put in the job. It wasn’t just at the national level that they were (on). After moving to the NBA, I went to Jaa Morant, Trey Can’t wait to play against Young and Damien Lillard types of guys so I can show that I’m ready to play in the NBA.”
Ross said he found those workouts confident he made a positive impact. He said several teams have shown interest. The Ross family will gather with close friends at their home on Thursday on Draft Night with the hope of hearing his name.
“Colby will be playing in that NBA summer league for someone, and he will be playing with a realistic chance of making the NBA. How will that unfold? I don’t know,” Roemer said. “But there are enough people in the NBA who know. Respect who he is and what he has done. I think he’s going to get a good, strong look from someone.”