PROVIDENCE – 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 that’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 – 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. It’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 shouldn’t be viewed in a negative light.
“I’m not blown away by (the news). I wish him the best,” said Shammgod, the onetime Providence hoopster who entered the draft following his sophomore year in the spring of 1997. “People are saying that this is the weakest draft ever, but at the end of the day, it’s every kid’s dream to play in the NBA.
“The only thing that people should do is just wish him luck and hope for the best,” Shammgod added. “At this point, everybody should give him the right information, the right people to work with, and go from there. If people really care, that’s what is needed.”
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.
“As 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,” said Ledo as part of the release.
“Most people make the best choice for the time that they’re in, not the time that may or will come,” said Shammgod, the voice of experience regarding the world Ledo has chosen to enter. “When I came out, I wasn’t thinking about 10 years from now. Most of them don’t.”
Mike Hart, the longtime successful head coach at St. Andrew’s, mentioned that a couple of NBA teams phoned him regarding Ledo, who attended the Barrington school for one year (2009-10).
“From what I hear, Ricky’s doing fine. That’s a pretty big jump to the NBA and I definitely think that one day he has the potential to play in the league,” said Hart. “I’ll definitely be rooting for him and hope it all works out.
“I have so much respect for (Providence head coach) Ed Cooley and the job he’s done that I would think it might benefit Ricky to go back just to be in that environment,” Hart continued. “At the end of the day, it’s a decision that he had to make with his family and advisors.”
In today’s NBA, players of Ledo’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.
“There’s always risk involved, but if Ricky has the feeling that he can get drafted this year, then so be it and good luck,” said Hart. “He definitely has the ability to play in the league, but there’s been a lot of cautionary tales with the draft. There’s 60 picks [in the NBA Draft spanning two rounds] and there’s a lot of guys who play basketball on this planet.”
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.
“Any time a kid can spend with Ed Cooley, it’s going to benefit him,” Hart declared. “Ed is going to tell you the truth and I can’t think of a better person to serve as a role model for young people.
“The more time Ricky can spend with Ed, the better off he would be, but that’s Ricky’s decision,” Hart delved further.
“I 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,” said Shammgod. “It 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.”