Watching Colbey Ross orchestrate a very talented Pepperdine Waves offense is like witnessing the Millennium Falcon jump to light speed. The fleet-footed lead guard is an offensive maestro, leading college basketball with 198 points produced through the Thanksgiving holiday tournaments. Ross has been a high usage creator since he first set foot in Malibu in 2017, and has thrived as one of the nation's most consistently productive mid-major guards. A career 40+% three-point shooter on 300+ attempts, Ross has the shooting versatility, savvy craft, and competitive edge that will likely garner the attention of the highest leagues in Europe - and although it's certainly an uphill climb for small mid-major guards, don't rule out an eventual shot at the NBA.
Tale of the Tape
Colbey Ross boasts a crisp, elusive crossover and explosive change-of-pace acceleration as a handler that gives defenses fits in preventing his dribble penetration, especially following ball-screen actions. He's deft at using his wiggle to create space for pull-ups, while maintaining the threat of knifing to the rim and initiating contact as a driver through traffic. Ross' ability to aggressively attack ball-screen switches causes defenses to throw exotic looks at him as a pick-and-roll handler, which plays right into Ross' hand as a willing and able playmaker for others.
In the clip below, we highlight Ross displaying some of his textbook pick-and-roll scoring ability.
While Ross has the skill and feel to punish any pick-and-roll defensive coverage, he can get a little loose with his handle and sometimes forces some ill-advised passes when he is blitzed or pitted against elite length. These issues were particularly on display against Sacramento State (7 turnovers, many of which occurred in such a fashion), and Ross has had at least 4 turnovers in each of his last 6 games. He'll need to clean this up a bit going forward.
Jump Shooting Versatility
Over the course of the 2018-19 season, Ross ranked in the 94th percentile three-point shooter and 88th percentile off-the-dribble pull-up shooter in the half-court by converting at clips of 1.307 PPP and 1.034 PPP, respectively. He's also a career ~42% shooter from deep when coming off screens, making it virtually impossible to go under screens or, given his effectiveness as a change-of-speed isolation threat, switch out with a slow-footed big. Mechanically he has a compact and consistent release that he’s comfortable deploying from everywhere beyond the arc. Ross also stays active off-ball hunting for gaps and rotational lapses on the perimeter, which makes him a threat at all times.
In the clip below, we highlight the dynamism of Ross' jumper.
As it pertains to projectability to the next level, Ross could stand to further quicken his release speed as a means to combat more athletic defenders filling gaps, closing out faster, and having a consistent length advantage.
Ultimately, Ross' shooting mechanics, shot versatility, and statistical shooting profile are highly encouraging for the projectability of his shot to the next level.
Colbey Ross has the heart of a lion and a basketball skill set that makes it easy to understand why he’s garnered so much recent attention from the national media. He's had a few recent standout performances against talent-laden high-major opponents (USC, Arizona, Providence), and didn't back down when going toe-to-toe with the likes of likely one-and-done prospects Nico Mannion and Josh Green.
Ross comes from a family of competitors and checks almost every intangible box that you could hope for in a modern day athlete. The road to the NBA for smaller guards that lack dynamic vertical athleticism is never an easy one, but what Ross lacks in anthro-measurements and traditional athleticism, he counterbalances with a well-rounded offensive game and competitive fire.
Ross' most likely outcome is to build up some momentum this season, test the 2020 NBA Draft waters, return to Pepperdine for his senior season, finish his college career as one of the most accomplished guards in WCC history, and evaluate his professional basketball options in the Summer of 2021. While it's unlikely that Ross is drafted in 2020, he could be in the late 2nd round mix in 2021, should at least land on a Summer League roster, and will likely warrant an array of Exhibit-10 offers. Ross could accept such an offer and go the G League route if he so chooses, but he checks all the boxes of an eventual upper-echelon Shane Larkin-esque guard in Europe. This path may prove best for Ross from a financial, lifestyle, and basketball growth perspective - with the NBA as a potential option a few years down the line (a la Brad Wanamaker).
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