Dec. 2, 2010
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - Terrence Ross' road from Vancouver, Wash., to UW has been anything but straight up Interstate 5.
It's included commutes across the Columbia River to attend high school in Portland. It's included a stay in suburban Washington, D.C., for one year of high school. Ross then considered a prep school in Phoenix before he returned home to re-enroll at Portland's Jefferson High.
Home, of course, is where mom is. And Marcine Ross has had a lot to do with her son, the 2008 Class 5A player of the year in Oregon as a sophomore, finding his way to Seattle for his freshman season that began this month.
She worked in Portland and drove Terrence into the city to school in his freshman and senior years. She home-schooled Ross in the 2007-08 academic year, while he played for Jefferson and won a state championship for the Democrats as a sophomore.
The following year she sent Ross to Montrose Christian in Rockville, Md., which produced former Seattle SuperSonic and current NBA star Kevin Durant. His mother said at the time that academics was the prime consideration for the move.
Then came another family decision, for Terrence to move back home after the junior year in Maryland. That meant a return to Jefferson High, where he had started his development into a wondrously athletic, 6-foot-6 guard. Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar says Ross is perhaps the most gifted player on Washington's loaded team.
Ross did not play high school basketball last year, but became more interested in staying close to home for college.
Ross had started getting recruiting letters from schools such as Stanford and UCLA in eighth grade. Those letters eventually filled garbage bags after that breakout sophomore season. Ross said he didn't even look at the envelopes of most of them.
"It really came down to Villanova and Washington," Ross said of a list of finalists that also included Kentucky, Oregon and Oklahoma. "I felt like Washington definitely had a good squad, with a good chance of being great this year. Coach Romar definitely has got a style of play that I like. And I wanted to be close to home."
Antoine Hosley was there for the whole odyssey. He went to Jefferson with Ross. And he's still with his pal.
Hosley accepted Romar's offer to walk for the Huskies on a few weeks after Ross signed with Washington.
"Antoine was one of the first three people I told I was choosing Washington," Ross said. "Then a couple weeks later, he told me he was coming here, too. I didn't believe him."
Days at UW with Ross are almost like middle school or high school again for Hosley, who considered scholarship offers from Montana, Sacramento State and other smaller schools before choosing to pay his way to UW. Terrence went to Alki Middle School in Vancouver, while Antoine was at Cascade.
"We'd car-pool to practices, or go hoop in the city," Hosley said of the pair's days commuting into the Rose City. "Vancouver did not have as many competitive basketball players as Portland."
The Huskies are reaping the benefits of them seeking higher competition. Romar can't stop marveling at Ross' skills.
"Talent-wise, he's as gifted as anyone on this team," Washington's coach says.
He can run, shoot, pass, defend with his long arms - everything Romar wants in a player. At 6-6, he is a matchup nightmare for most guards.
Romar cautions that as a true freshman, it may take Ross a month or two into the season before he begins blossoming, as he learns the coach's system of intense, man-to-man defense and making extra passes on offense.
"Terrence Ross, man, he's going to be a good basketball player for us," the coach said for the umpteenth time this fall.
Ross has been a star on every team he's been on, since back in youth leagues in three different sports. So coming off the bench as he has early in this Huskies' season has been a challenge. Yet early on he has shown a willingness to come out firing seconds after he enters games for the first time.
"It's an adjustment," he said. "I'm just wanting to get into the right mindset, learning what the coaches expect from me.
"That first shot coming off the bench is always the hardest. I definitely have to get something out when I get out there."
One thing that isn't foreign is the Huskies frenetic style.
"At `Jeff' we got up and down like this," Ross said, smiling. "At Montrose, it was more slow down.
"I like this better."
Ross was always the tallest player on his teams growing up. He played baseball through the sixth grade and was a pitcher, first baseman and center fielder. He was 6-3 in the eighth grade, when he played tight end, wide receiver and quarterback in football.
Wait, a tight end? Needless to say, the tall, relatively lanky Ross wasn't the blocking kind.
"I mean, I was the tallest guy on the team. They would just throw it up and I'd catch it," he said, laughing.
With all of Ross' talent, and all of his travels, people wonder how long he will be at Washington before he considers a jump to the NBA. Romar constantly preaches the value of staying in college, citing Brandon Roy and Isaiah Thomas as recent examples of those who have benefitted from the experience and maturation at Washington.
And the Huskies' lineup at guard, with national player-of-the-year candidate Thomas, more assertive Abdul Gaddy and defensive menace Venoy Overton, may not afford Ross many chances for showcasing this season.
Then again, his prodigious skills might.
"I'm basically just focused on this season, and whatever happens happens," Ross said.
"If (the NBA) becomes an option, maybe I will consider it then. But I just want to do all I can to help the team any way I can, any time I am in the game."