Ricky Ledo did not take the conventional route to get to where he is today. The Providence native is currently averaging 20.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.2 steals for the Reno Bighorns, and was recently named to the NBADL All-Star Game.
But it was not too long ago that Ledo looked like one of the top prospects coming out of high school in 2012, drawing comparisons to Kevin Durant, largely in part thanks to his lanky frame and sweet shooting stroke. Four high schools and five years later he was ranked 21st overall in his class and was named a McDonald's All-American. After netting offers from Kentucky, Syracuse, Connecticut and West Virginia he committed to stay in his home state of Rhode Island to attend Providence College.
Unfortunately due to his constant transferring of high schools, he was soon ruled ineligible to play by the NCAA for failing to meet academic requirements. It was easy to see why scouts loved him in high school. He was a 6'6" guard that not only could stretch the defense with his outside shooting but could also finish inside with the best of them. Take a look at this video of him going head-to-head with John Wall at the Reebok Headquarters in 2012.
Going into Providence, he was considered a lock to be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft. That said, his stock took an understandable hit after not playing college ball. Although the combine process was kind to Ledo, who was regarded as one of the best pure scorers in the draft, he still ended up being taken late in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks and was soon traded to the Dallas Mavericks. He split time between the Mavericks and Texas Legends for just over a season before being cut from the Mavericks to make room for Amar'e Stoudemire.
Shortly after, he signed a pair of ten day contracts and was eventually for the remainder of the season by the New York Knicks. Ledo showed flashes of his true potential when given a shot. In twelve games played, he averaged 7.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in almost 20 minutes of action per game and one time exploded for 21 points in a loss to the Washington Wizards.
Though he was waived by the Knicks the following summer it set up his eventual signing with the Bighorns. Since arriving has looked like an absolute stud on a team that has some of the D-League's top-tier talent like Erick Green and Vincent Hunter. He has scored 29 or more points on seven occasions and has scored under 20 points only 12 times. Ledo is an excellent rebounder for a guard thanks to his 6'7" wingspan and nose for the ball. Taking a closer look at some of his better performances this season will show immense growth from his first two years.
The perfect example of what Ledo can do when given the reigns came on November 13th against the Los Angeles D-Fenders where he finished with 33 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Not only was he feeling it from deep, he was also able to really showcase his ability to get to the rim and finish thanks to his deceptively good handles and a finger-roll that would make George Gervin proud. He was feeling it from everywhere on the court, showing just how dangerous he really is as a scorer.
While there are a lot of bright spots to his game, there are obviously a few areas that need still need work as well. NBA teams love guys that can carry bench units in scoring but they are mostly looking for players that can hold down the fort on both sides of the ball while the starters rest. Defense is at a premium, and while Ledo is by no means a liability, he needs to work on his defense if he wants to be a more complete player. Another area he needs to focus on is his shot selection. He is a very confident scorer and that can sometimes be his downfall. He takes a lot of shots in transition and he has a tendency to take poor shots when he should pass it off to the trailer or maybe pull it out to reset the offense.
His story is not one of redemption, but perseverance. Ledo has not let any of the many obstacles in his life keep him from his dream to play in the NBA. His drive and passion paired with his natural ability and hard work will pay off for the 23-year-old. There is no way he does not finish the season on an NBA roster, his NBA experience and development in the D-League are going to be extremely valuable to any team that signs him.