Ohio State freshman sidelined by grades

Last week, we saw St. John's lose three promising recruits from the 2011-12 campaign -- including one of its most talented players, JaKarr Sampson -- thanks to various ineligibility concerns. It seems to happen every year: Just as your program welcomes its new batch of talented players, the NCAA dutifully informs you that Talented Player X, while very talented at basketball, maybe doesn't quite have the grades to make the cut.


Ohio State was the latest to feel the scourge of ineligibility today. According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, the NCAA deemed incoming recruit LaQuinton Ross an academic non-qualifier. Essentially, that means Ross can stay at Ohio State, but he can't be awarded a scholarship, can't participate in practices or games, and loses a year of his eligibility in the process.

The Columbus Dispatch's Bob Baptist reports that Ross is currently at home in Mississippi, where he hopes to retake classes and standardized tests in the hope of improving his eligibility situation in time to return to Ohio State in January.

What does this mean for Ohio State? All in all, not too much. Sure, Ross is a highly touted player -- he's a four-star small forward ranked No. 53 overall in 2011 class -- and his absence will require some slight tinkering on the part of Ohio State coach Thad Matta. But the truth is Ross probably wouldn't have made a major impact as a freshman.

For one, Matta already has a pair of very talented wings in William Buford and DeShaun Thomas. He also has incoming small forward Sam Thompson, who ranks just ahead of Ross on most scouts' boards. Plus, there's center Amir Williams and point guard Shannon Scott; those two are far more likely to push Matta's lineup for minutes. And third? Matta usually prefers a short bench anyway. To the extent that he'll be giving many minutes to players who don't crack his starting five -- and he hasn't the past two seasons; why would you when you can play Jared Sullinger 35 minutes a game? -- Ross probably wasn't getting that run.

In other words, Buckeyes fans don't have to freak out on this one. It's never nice to learn one of your incoming recruits can't qualify academically, but in terms of sheer hoops calculus, Ross's impact -- or lack thereof -- should be minimal.