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Ricky Ledo takes winding road to the NBA

Ricky Ledo was thought to have lottery talent, but he slipped to the second round of the NBA draft due to a myriad of off the court issues.

Mike Stobe

Sooner or later, someone had to take a chance on Ricky Ledo (scouting report).

The guard from Providence just has too much talent. Ledo can create his own shot through a tricky handle and quick step-back, has the athleticism to finish inside and boasts the confidence of a veteran. And while those qualities would usually land a player of his caliber in the first round, Ledo had to wait until the No. 43 overall pick to hear his name called in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Still, it's not bad for someone who never suited up in college.

"Several teams believe he is THE sleeper in this draft," ESPN's Chad Ford wrote in the run-up to Thursday's draft. "A lethal scorer who would've been a lock for the lottery had he been eligible to play this year."

Ledo's winding road to the NBA isn't complete just yet -- he'll have to earn a guaranteed contract from the Dallas Mavericks in training camp as a second-round pick. But for the four-star recruit who came to Providence after bouncing around four high schools, all Ledo ever wanted was a chance.

Ledo emerged from high school ranked No. 21 in the country in ESPN's class of 2012. As a Providence native, Ledo seemed destined for success with the Friars. But with as much potential as Ledo had, Friars coach Ed Cooley knew his star recruit was also loaded with problems.

An anonymous prep coach once called Ledo "the single worst human being I'd ever been associated with on a basketball court" and worse, said he was a "program killer."

It doesn't matter how talented a player is -- if a coach says that about him, that's more than just a small red flag. "Program killer" implies the player is not only putting his own game at risk, but can also hurt the team as a whole.

To be fair, we didn't see much of him in Providence, so it's hard to judge his impact on the program. Ledo was declared academically ineligible before the season started and sat the entire year. So now Friars fans are left wondering what could have been. Providence went 19-15 and advanced to the NIT Quarterfinals, but lost seven games by five points or fewer. Someone like Ledo could have made a world of difference.

One anonymous scout from the Eastern Conference told the Providence Journal that the freshman is a "riddle wrapped in an enigma," but added that if Ledo has played in college, he could have been a much higher pick.

So how will a talented shooting guard with character issues fit with the Mavericks? For an organization facing so much potential turnover heading into free agency, an open situation seems to suit Ledo best. The Mavericks desperately need some youth on the wings with Vince Carter and Shawn Marion nearing the ends of their illustrious careers. If Ledo shows he can buy into Rick Carlisle's system while displaying the talent that made him such a coveted recruit, it might be hard for Dallas to keep him off the floor.

Ledo won't need to look far for inspiration. A year ago, the Mavericks selected Jae Crowder in the second round of the draft. While Crowder went through the growing pains most rookies experience, he still played in 78 games and logged 17 minutes per night.

If all Ricky Ledo ever wanted was a chance, he'll have one now in Dallas.

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