By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
Terrence Ross’ pre-NBA draft climb took him up teams’ draft boards from lower first-round pick, then to the NBA’s “Green Room” as a possible lottery pick and finally all the way into the top 10.
The University of Washington sophomore shooting guard was selected by the Toronto Raptors with the eighth pick of Thursday’s draft.
Meanwhile, Tony Wroten’s perceived slide into the second round never occurred as the UW freshman was selected by the Memphis Grizzlies with the 25th pick of the first round.
The selection of Ross so high was a surprise to some NBA draft analysts — he was projected to go in the middle of the first round. It was also a little stunning to Ross.
“I didn’t think I would go this high, but I’m happy I am,” he said at the draft press conference. “I know I can make an impact at the next level, and I’m just happy to be where I’m at. It’s just a real moment. I still don’t feel like any of this is happening. I feel blessed to be here, and I think it just shows all of the hard work I put in.”
The Raptors valued Ross’ ability to shoot from the perimeter, his athleticism and his 6-foot-7 frame.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey, a former Seattle SuperSonics assistant who still has a house in the Seattle area, watched Ross at UW practices during the NBA lockout.
“We are real high on him,” Casey said in the NBA draft press conference. “Terrence is an excellent shooter, excellent athlete and a great full-court runner. The one thing about him is that he gets after it defensively for a young kid.”
But there is one aspect of Ross’ game that took precedence over everything else.
“He has one skill that transfers and carries over to all levels of basketball, that’s shooting,” Casey said. “He has an NBA skill that you don’t have to wait to develop.”
The Raptors lacked that this past season.
“We need shooting,” Casey said. “We put a higher premium on his shooting. I think that’s something that impressed. Of all the guys still available on the board, he is a guy that could get his shot off in an NBA game today. You would feel comfortable throwing him in there if you needed a shot, that he would make a shot.”
Ross earned first-team All-Pacific-12 Conference honors this past season, averaging 16.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals a game. He shot 45.7 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from 3-point range.
Ross is the 10th Huskies player selected in the first round of the draft, and ninth player under UW coach Lorenzo Romar to be selected.
Ross is the fifth Huskies player drafted in top 10, joining Bob Houbregs (third, Milwaukee, 1953), Detlef Schrempf (eighth, Dallas, 1985), Brandon Roy (sixth, Minnesota, 2006) and Spencer Hawes (10th, Sacramento, 2007).
Questions about Wroten’s shooting dogged him during the pre-draft workout period. He shot 16.1 percent from 3-point range and 58.3 percent from the free-throw line this season and didn’t display a consistent outside shot during the NBA draft combine and several private workouts.
“He seems very intent to prove whatever detractors he had wrong,” Memphis general manager Chris Wallace said in a draft press conference.
How much did Wroten want to play for the Grizzlies? He called Wallace the night before the draft and implored the GM to take him.
What made him attractive to the Grizzles was his size (6-5, 205 pounds), strength, ability to get to the basket and finish, his court vision and advanced passing ability.
Wroten was the Pac-12 freshman of the year this season and was named first-team all-Pac-12 after averaging 16 points, five rebounds and 3.7 assists a game.
Wroten joined Schrempf (1985) as the only players in UW history to have at least 500 points, 150 rebounds and 100 assists in the same season.
Wroten will likely vie for time as the backup to Grizzlies starting point guard Mike Conley. Memphis used rookies Josh Selby and former Gonzaga guard Jeremy Pargo as Conley’s backup this past season. Neither found consistent success, and Conley was forced to play an average of 35 minutes a game.
By virtue of their first-round selections, Ross and Wroten will earn two-year guaranteed NBA contracts with team options for a third and fourth year.