With the 16th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics select…Ricky Ledo?
Don’t feel bad if you don’t recognize the name. You’re not alone. In fact, although he’s listed as coming out of Providence College, Ledo didn’t play a single minute last season.
Even so, the 20-year-old is the prospect who has the most to offer the Celtics.
Sure, his future looks bright now. But that wasn’t always the case.
A Star Is Born
Growing up in Rhode Island, Ledo didn’t waste any time in making a name for himself.
When he was just a freshman, his skills on the court earned him a spot on the Bishop Hendricken varsity team. No small task, given the squad was coming off four straight RIIL state championships.
Over the next two years, Ledo would help lead the Hawks to a combined 48-6 record and a 23-0 mark in league play. The team would also add its fifth and sixth straight titles along the way.
Ledo saved his best performance for the second title game.
The then-sophomore guard lit up Mount Pleasant for 31 points, leading Bishop Hendricken to a 94-76 victory. He scored 25 of the team’s 43 first-half points, putting together one of the finest performances in Rhode Island state championship history.
It was also the game that put Ledo on the map.
Soon after, he decided it was time for bigger and better things. Ledo spent his next three years playing for St. Andrew’s (Barrington, RI), Notre Dame Prep (Fitchburg, MA) and South Kent (South Kent, CT).
The success followed him to each destination.
At St. Andrew’s, Ledo led the squad to an 18-6 record and a second-place finish in the tough NEPSAC Class B conference. He then followed that up by leading Notre Dame Prep to the Prep National finals after netting 31 points in the semifinals. Ledo then capped it all off with a strong senior season with South Kent, averaging 23.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, while earning Second Team All-Conference honors.
There was no doubt that Ledo was poised for greatness at the next level.
A Bump In the Road
Given his high school success, it was no surprise that Ledo was one of the most sought-after recruits in college basketball.
Along with being a McDonald’s All-American, he was also rated the No. 21 overall prospect in the class of 2012 by ESPN with a scout grade of 96. Providence, Connecticut, Kentucky, Syracuse and West Virginia were among the schools that showed interest.
On Sept. 6, 2011, Ledo chose to remain in his hometown state, committing to Providence College.
However, having attended four different high schools in five years, he was a long shot to gain academic eligibility for the 2012-13 season. Luckily for Ledo, the NCAA ruled him a partial qualifier—he could practice, not play.
This setback didn’t deter Ledo. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity to grow.
Day in and day out, Ledo was one of the first players on the court during practices. He treated each practice as if it were a game. When the rest of the team was on the road for games, Ledo went to work too, working out with former Providence standout God Shammgod.
While it was certainly tough, watching the games from the bench proved beneficial for Ledo.
He would pay attention to the things he normally wouldn’t have noticed had he been playing. Ledo would specifically watch his teammates closely and did everything he could to help them.
"I was telling people when they came out, ‘This is what you did’ and ‘You could’ve done this better,’” he told Pat Graham of the Associated Press. “I was trying to be the ultimate teammate.”
The Friars would finish the season 19-15, making it to the quarterfinals of the NIT. It was their best record since 2008-09.
It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to suggest that “Coach Ledo” played a significant role in that.
It’s a Win-Win
On April 11, Ledo shocked many people by declaring for the 2013 NBA Draft.
It was a risky maneuver, especially since he didn’t play a single minute for Providence last season. However, early reports from several teams he’s worked out for have been nothing but positive.
It’s a list of teams that includes Boston.
Sure, the team seems to be set at the point guard and shooting guard positions. But after Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, what other reliable options do the Celtics have left on the depth chart?
That provides the perfect opportunity for Ledo to step in.
During his workouts, he has excelled with the ball in his hands. Whether it’s setting up a teammate for an easy bucket or spotting up for the three, Ledo has demonstrated proficiency at both. In fact, he shot an impressive 9-of-17 from three-point range over a weekend workout for the Chicago Bulls back in May.
As Denver Nuggets Director of Player Personnel Mike Bratz told the AP: "He’s a talented scorer. Terrific athlete. At the wing position…you have to be a good athlete and be able to shoot the ball. He can do both."
The only downside is his lack of experience.
According to Draftexpress.com's Jonathan Givony, this makes Ledo more of a “long-term project.” At the same time, Givony believes he possesses a significantly higher upside than some of the other prospects outside of the top 20. ESPN’s Chad Ford took it a step further, stating that several teams see Ledo as the “biggest sleeper” in the draft.
With that said, Boston seems to be the perfect environment for him to start up his career.
Behind Rondo, Ledo would be learning from one of the most talented guards in the league. Not only that, he would also be able to give the team a player with the ability and talent to play backup point guard. That was something the Celtics struggled with last year, especially in Rondo’s absence.
Defensively, Ledo still has a lot of work to do. But who better to learn from than Bradley—arguably the league’s best perimeter defender? Furthermore, Ledo would give the Celtics a much-needed boost in scoring from the shooting guard position—Bradley only averaged 9.2 PPG.
It’s a situation that seems taylor made to benefit both parties. So why pass on that?
Summing It All Up
Ledo isn’t the “sexy pick”. He’s not going to be the name that will draw fans to the seats. But Ledo’s definitely the pick who will make the biggest immediate impact outside of the top 10.
Isn’t that what matters most?
To put it simply, the kid’s a natural-born winner. Ever since his high school days, Ledo has been accomplishing things nobody thought possible. It’s that determination and dedication to his craft that have gotten him to this point.
How many other players could miss an entire year of basketball and still be talked about as a first-round draft pick? Not many.
With Ledo, Boston could have something special. It may be a leap of faith, but sometimes you need to take a risk in life.
This is one of them.