As Ohio State's 2013-14 season came to a close with a 60-59 defeat at the hands of Dayton in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, the Buckeyes junior forward's career may have as well. After opting to return to Ohio State following a postseason surge a year ago, Ross says that he will again weigh whether or not to forego his remaining eligibility in order to enter the NBA Draft.
"I definitely think so," Ross responded when asked by BuckeyeSports.com if he has a decision to make in the coming weeks. "I have no idea right now. I'll sit down with my family, my coaches and go from there."
Ross currently projects as a second round pick by most mock draft websites, with DraftExpress.com predicting that he'll be the No. 55 pick in the upcoming draft and NBADraft.net slotting the 6-8, 220-pounder at the No. 56 pick. ESPN.com, meanwhile thinks higher of Ross, naming him the No. 28 overall prospect in the upcoming draft.
The Buckeyes' leading scorer this season with an average 15.2 points per game, Ross entered the NCAA Tournament on a streak that included six straight games of having scored at least 19 points. Ross, however, struggled in OSU's season-ending loss to the Flyers, scoring 10 points on 5-of-12 shooting.
"They did a good job, they came with a lot of help," Ross said of Dayton. "Any time I caught it down low they brought two or three guys to me. Any time I tried to go to the hole they were able to put a guy there for help. They just played physical.
Asked what factors will play into his decision, Ross said that he'll take into consideration his projected draft stock, as well as what he'd potentially be returning to at Ohio State.
"Just basically how I feel and getting insight into where I could go and what we'll have next year," Ross said. "I'm just going to sit down and talk to my coaches and see what they say and see what my family says and we'll go from there."
Having had eight players forego remaining eligibility in his first nine seasons at Ohio State, Buckeyes coach Thad Matta is no stranger to the NBA Draft process. Matta said that he'll walk Ross through the same steps that he's already taken several other players through in his career, but also hinted that he believes that Ross has unfulfilled potential at the college level.
"The thing you gotta do is do the research," Matta said. "I always want what's best for our guys. If it's right, I'll be the first to tell them to go. He's gotta sit down and look at it. I think he's capable of coming back here and having a great senior year if he were to choose to do that."
Whether Ross will attempt to do just that or not remains to be seen. But unlike Jared Sullinger and William Buford did in 2011, the Jackson, Miss. native stated that he won't let a disappointing loss in the NCAA Tournament be the reason that he returns for the following season.
"They knew what they were coming back to. They had a great system and a great system for them," Ross said of his former teammates. "They brought in our class, so they knew that they'd have players around them."
Next season, Ohio State will lose two senior starters in guards Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr.. The Buckeyes are bringing in what is currently the nation's sixth-ranked recruiting class, which includes five-star guard D'Angelo Russell, five-star forward Keita Bates-Diop, four-star forward Jae'Sean Tate and three-star center Dave Bell.
The deadline for underclassmen to enter the 2014 NBA Draft is April 27.