Ross Focused And Ready For Pivotal Season
Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
Although the 2014-2015 season was a challenging one for Terrence Ross, you wouldn’t know it from his offseason demeanor. After undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs from his left ankle in May, Ross has spent much of his offseason rehabbing. He took a break in mid-July to join Toronto’s summer league squad in Las Vegas and get a glimpse of the two rookies the team drafted. While his appearance was limited to the bench, he was rarely still for the duration of the game. Unable to get on the court himself, he channeled his competitiveness into instructing his teammates.
“I had never even had my wisdom teeth pulled out [prior to May’s procedure],” Ross said. “This was the first time I ever had to go under the needle.”
From jumping up animatedly during timeouts while gesturing wildly to sophomore Bruno Caboclo, and explaining sets to rookies Delon Wright and Norman Powell on the bench, Ross was wholly engaged in the summer league match up.
Ross was able to see Caboclo’s progression over the course of the season during practice sessions, but getting to watch him take the court in Vegas served as a reminder of the unique advantages and potential his lengthy frame has afforded him.
“Bruno has super long arms,” Ross said. “He can make it hard for guys. He just has to know what to do. He’s quick enough, he has athleticism, he has the physical attributes. There are things he can do to make it tough on defenders. It’s cool. At first, nobody knew what he could do. Once the season started and he started working out with the coaches you got a feel for it and after that he was just trying to figure things out. Seeing all the work he put in, getting to see him play live in games, he’s improving. He’s coming along.”
Planning on training in LA with teammates and coaches before heading to Vancouver for more work with his Raptors teammates, Ross says focusing on his first step will be a priority when he gets the go-ahead and has rehab limitations lifted by the training staff.
“Rather than doing East and West, just going North and South,” Ross said. “That’s what I'm trying to work on when I get back so it helps me get by defenders so I can get to the basket.”
Part of what helped Ross stay level during a season that saw him go from starter to reserve was the birth of his son. Already extremely tight with his mother, Marcine, a former basketball player herself, becoming a parent has given Ross and his mother another thing in common.
“She just loves being a grandmother,” Ross said. “She’s always trying to come around, try to see him whenever she can. Whenever I'm going anywhere with him, she wants to go with me. She just loves having another baby around. She’s having fun with it.”
Ross is entering his fourth season. It’s a big year for him. The Raptors could lock him up with a rookie contract extension before the deadline at the end of October or, alternatively, they could allow him to play out this season, which would send him on a path towards restricted free agency next summer. Drafted because of his jaw-dropping athleticism and potential, the 24-year-old is looking to prove he can consistently be effective on both ends of the floor.
The eighth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft declared for the NBA after his sophomore season at the University of Washington. He had the opportunity to play against Powell during Powell’s freshman season at UCLA and knew he was a skilled player. Ross, a two-time dunk contest winner, didn’t expect to see Powell’s above-the-rim game and came away from summer league impressed.
“He plays with tenacity on defence,” Ross said. “He’s talented offensively. He can do it all. I saw him in college, he was athletic and could dunk and everything, but what he’s been doing lately, it’s surprised me. He’s looking like the steal of the draft.”
With a new-look roster and offseason moves geared toward improving defensively, Ross knows what is needed — and expected — from him. Although he enjoyed getting to help his younger teammates from the bench in Vegas, he’s eager to get back to showing what he can do on the floor.