DENVER (AP) – All season long, Ricky Ledo treated practices at Providence as game days. It was his only chance to see the court.
Ruled academically ineligible last fall, the freshman didn’t get to play a minute for the Friars – and yet he’s still among the top point guards in the upcoming NBA draft.
Ledo has been making the rounds since declaring for the draft, already visiting six different teams, including the Denver Nuggets on Monday. He realizes he has to make a solid and swift first impression, simply because he doesn’t have any college game footage to show teams.
“I’m definitely auditioning right now,” Ledo said. “Practicing and not playing last season was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It’s like you go to work seven days a week and you don’t get a paycheck at the end of the week. It was tough.
“But I learned a lot from sitting.”
Ledo was a hot commodity coming out of high school, a top-25 prospect recruited by the likes of Kentucky, Florida, UCLA, Arizona and Syracuse. He averaged 23.4 points and 6.2 rebounds his senior year at South Kent School in Connecticut.
The 6-foot-6 Ledo picked Providence, in part, because he’s from the area. On top of that, he liked the direction the program was headed under coach Ed Cooley.
In September, the NCAA ruled that Ledo could not compete in games for the Friars in 2012-13. That had to do with bouncing around to four high schools in five years and not having enough credits, Ledo explained, to meet academic standards for eligibility.
However, he could practice and work out with the squad during the season.
There was a glimmer of hope that perhaps he would get to suit up for the second half of the season, provided Ledo took care of his work in the classroom. Ledo said he earned a solid grade point average his first semester, but still fell short of the requirements needed to become eligible.
“It was tough getting that call I couldn’t play,” Ledo said. “But I was invested, so I tried to help out.”
Ledo showed off his smooth jumper each day in practice, sometimes with scouts in the stands to watch.
Game days were difficult, especially when the Friars went on the road. Usually, he would spend time working out with former Providence standout turned undergraduate student assistant coach God Shammgod.
Then, Ledo would watch the contest on television.
“We lost some close ones,” said Ledo, whose Friars team went 19-15 and made it to the quarterfinals of the NIT. “I knew I could’ve gone out and helped.
“I believe if I would’ve played last year, I would be a top-five pick. Definitely feel I’m one of the top guys.”
That may not just be hyperbole, either.
“He’s a talented scorer,” said Mike Bratz, the director of player personnel for the Nuggets. “Terrific athlete. At the wing position … you have to be a good athlete and be able to shoot the ball. He can do that.”
Ledo knows it’s a risky move leaving Providence after only one season – a season in which he didn’t play, no less – but figured the timing was right.
So far, he said he’s also worked out with Boston, Chicago, Minnesota, Houston and San Antonio.
“It’s fun,” he said of touring different teams. “This is something new. It’s pretty cool.”
Since he couldn’t sub in last season, he became almost like a coach for the Friars. It’s a role he relished – as much as he could anyway.
“I was telling people when they came out, ‘This is what you did’ and, ‘You could’ve done this better,'” he said. “I was trying to be the ultimate teammate.”
Joining Ledo in his afternoon workout session Monday were players such as Kansas center Jeff Withey, Missouri guard Phil Pressey, Ole Miss forward Reggie Buckner, St. Mary’s guard Matt Dellavedova and North Carolina guard/forward Reggie Bullock – all players who could be available when Denver picks at No. 27 in the first round.
Ledo can see himself fitting in nicely with the Nuggets, especially with Ty Lawson running the show.
“Lawson is a player who can get you the ball in the right spot,” Ledo said.
Think he will slip to No. 27 on June 27?
“I don’t know,” Ledo said. “We’ll see.”
Notes: The Nuggets also worked out Colorado State C Colton Iverson and South Dakota State G Nate Wolters in a morning session Monday. Wolters scored a school-record 53 points and broke another mark with nine 3-pointers in a win over IPFW last February. “It was a crazy game, never thought I’d score that many points,” Wolters said. … Bratz called Bullock, “one of the best shooters in the draft.” Bullock averaged 13.9 points for the Tar Heels last season.
– By Pat Graham, AP Sports Writer
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