PROVIDENCE â€“ Through all the twists and turns on his basketball journey, Ricky Ledo never once lost sight of what he interpreted to be the brass ring.
Mentioning Ledo and the NBA in the same sentence is a parlor game thatâ€™s been en vogue for quite some time. The Providence native always seemed to have a twinkle in his eye when it came to pro hoops â€“ his tunnel vision so clairvoyant that the only matter left to itemize was to wait for Declaration Day.
In a four-paragraph press release that was issued from Providence College at the stroke of 3 p.m. Tuesday, Ledo announced that the time had come for him to take the plunge and apply for the NBA Draft. Itâ€™s off to the next phase for a talented, yet largely unproven 20-year-old, one who leaves PC with not a single minute of competitive college basketball under his belt.
For someone like God Shammgod, presently an undergrad assistant coach at PC and a person who can speak about the pros and cons of leaving school early, what Ledo ultimately decided shouldnâ€™t be viewed in a negative light.
â€śIâ€™m not blown away by (the news). I wish him the best,â€ť said Shammgod, the onetime Providence hoopster who entered the draft following his sophomore year in the spring of 1997. â€śPeople are saying that this is the weakest draft ever, but at the end of the day, itâ€™s every kidâ€™s dream to play in the NBA.
â€śThe only thing that people should do is just wish him luck and hope for the best,â€ť Shammgod added. â€śAt this point, everybody should give him the right information, the right people to work with, and go from there. If people really care, thatâ€™s what is needed.â€ť
There is some risk involved with the 6-foot-7 Ledo forgoing his four years of Friar eligibility. From his vantage point, the time has come to strike while the iron is hot.
â€śAs much as I wanted to play for the Friars and help the team win a Big East championship, I felt I could not pass up the opportunity to enter the NBA Draft,â€ť said Ledo as part of the release.
â€śMost people make the best choice for the time that theyâ€™re in, not the time that may or will come,â€ť said Shammgod, the voice of experience regarding the world Ledo has chosen to enter. â€śWhen I came out, I wasnâ€™t thinking about 10 years from now. Most of them donâ€™t.â€ť
Mike Hart, the longtime successful head coach at St. Andrewâ€™s, mentioned that a couple of NBA teams phoned him regarding Ledo, who attended the Barrington school for one year (2009-10).
â€śFrom what I hear, Rickyâ€™s doing fine. Thatâ€™s a pretty big jump to the NBA and I definitely think that one day he has the potential to play in the league,â€ť said Hart. â€śIâ€™ll definitely be rooting for him and hope it all works out.
â€śI have so much respect for (Providence head coach) Ed Cooley and the job heâ€™s done that I would think it might benefit Ricky to go back just to be in that environment,â€ť Hart continued. â€śAt the end of the day, itâ€™s a decision that he had to make with his family and advisors.â€ť
In todayâ€™s NBA, players of Ledoâ€™s put-the-ball-in-the-net reputation are looked upon quite favorably. To evaluators, it matters very little that he sat out the 2012-13 season after being deemed a partial qualifier by the NCAA.
â€śThereâ€™s always risk involved, but if Ricky has the feeling that he can get drafted this year, then so be it and good luck,â€ť said Hart. â€śHe definitely has the ability to play in the league, but thereâ€™s been a lot of cautionary tales with the draft. Thereâ€™s 60 picks [in the NBA Draft spanning two rounds] and thereâ€™s a lot of guys who play basketball on this planet.â€ť
While his time at PC was short-lived, both Hart and Shammgod were in agreement that Ledo profited immensely from being around the stability that Cooley fosters.
â€śAny time a kid can spend with Ed Cooley, itâ€™s going to benefit him,â€ť Hart declared. â€śEd is going to tell you the truth and I canâ€™t think of a better person to serve as a role model for young people.
â€śThe more time Ricky can spend with Ed, the better off he would be, but thatâ€™s Rickyâ€™s decision,â€ť Hart delved further.
â€śI think Ricky made unbelievable strides in becoming a better person and a player. He was able to shake some of the stigmas that he has,â€ť said Shammgod. â€śIt would have been great for the PC fans to see him play, but all you can do now is help him prepare for what comes next.â€ť