COLUMBIA — Earnest Ross watched from the shadows last season, all the while keeping an eye on the Missouri Tiger making long-distance baskets, playing solid defense and sacrificing for the greater good of the team.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
That player? Kim English, now of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.
“That’s somebody I looked up to,” said Ross, a broad-shouldered, 6-foot-5 junior who sat out last season after transferring from Auburn. “When he was here, I looked at his role and what he did for the team … and that was something I saw my role being.”
English was taken in the second round of this summer’s NBA Draft after a senior season in which he averaged 14.5 points per game and shot a remarkable 45.9 percent from three-point range.
Ross was Auburn’s leading scorer in 2010-11 with an average of 13.1 per game, but he could not help but be impressed by English’s marksmanship, which spaced the floor for one of the most efficient offenses in the country.
So Ross — who shot 33 percent from long distance his final season at Auburn — set out to become a little more like English.
“We have a great team,” Ross said, “so if anybody adds the type of shooting they had last year, it would certainly give this team a boost.”
Ross hopes to shoot better than 40 percent on threes this season.
“That was something I really took pride in the year I was off,” Ross said. “I came in every morning and put up 400 shots, and I came in every afternoon and put up 400 shots, just constantly working on threes and my midrange game … I’m trying to be a threat.”
Ross certainly was in MU’s exhibition games. In victories over Missouri Southern and Northwest Missouri State, he went a combined eight for 15 from the perimeter. But he fell off in MU’s season opener against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Saturday, going zero for four. A few other Tigers came through from long distance, including Negus Webster-Chan (three for five), Stefan Jankovic (two for two) and Phil Pressey (two for two).
Ross will have another chance to establish his long-range game when MU plays host to Alcorn State at 7 tonight at Mizzou Arena. And the Tigers soon will add another marksman to the mix as sophomore transfer Jabari Brown is expected to become eligible in late December.
Even if Ross starts shooting like English, one thing will still be different: his hair. Ross sports a high-top fade reminiscent of Will Smith’s in the transcendent 1990s sitcom “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
“I wanted to add a little flavor to this year’s team,” Ross said. “We all want to resemble last year’s team as far as winning, but as an individual, I want to be something different, bring my own spice.”
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.