Sports (inside this week) - Colbey Ross.jpg

Pepperdine’s Colbey Ross (right) in a game against BYU

Pepperdine Waves men’s basketball player Colbey Ross has scored points for his team myriad ways during his college basketball career. 

There have been tough layups, three-point swishes, midrange jump shots and makes from the free throw line. Ross’ scoring during his first three seasons has added up to the point guard tallying so many points, in fact, he is just 23 shy of becoming Pepperdine mens’ basketball’s career scoring leader. 

Ross doesn’t like to focus on how many points he scores in a contest but admitted his hard work has allowed him to be a Waves standout.

“To be so close to breaking the scoring record means a lot,” he said, before listing some of the best players in Pepperdine basketball history. “Just knowing about the guys that have come here and played before—Stacy Davis, Doug Christie, Gerald Brown—it means a lot to have my name mentioned with them. I am super blessed.” 

Ross found out he was close to eclipsing Davis’ career point total of 1,786, currently tops in the Waves record books, late last season when he read a few social media posts that were documenting all the points he was raining on defenders. His biggest scoring bonanza was in Pepperdine’s final game of the year. Ross dropped a career-high 43 points, which included seven threes, in his squad’s double-overtime loss to Saint Mary’s in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament. 

The 22-year-old senior has tallied 1,763 points since the 2017-18 season and has a career scoring average of 17.7 points a contest, but he isn’t just a shooter. 

“I would describe myself as a high-IQ, playmaking point guard,” Ross, also Pepperdine’s career assists leader at 647 and counting, said. “If I need to score the ball, I can score the ball, but at the same time I find a lot of joy in getting assists, finding my teammates and seeing them score. Playmaking—I have been doing that since middle school and high school.” 

Ross’ average of 6.6 assists a contest is the top all-time at Pepperdine, and he leads all current NCAA men’s players in career assists. The two-time WCC first-team member’s free throw percentage of 84.7 percent is No. 1 in Waves history and he is on pace to be Pepperdine’s all-time leader in free throw makes.

Although he had one of the best freshman seasons in Pepperdine history, Ross said his game didn’t blossom until Lorenzo Romar became the Waves head coach the next year.

“When Coach Romar came in, he gave me the keys to play my game,” Ross said. “He gave me a lot of freedom to make plays and learn from my mistakes.” 

Davis, a 2016 Pepperdine graduate, knew his reign as Pepperdine’s all-time points leader would be short after Ross had an outstanding second college season.

“He was that good,” Davis—now a pro basketball player overseas—said. “He has the ability to completely take over games from scoring standpoint but also possesses the ability to make plays and passes off the bounce that keeps the entire team engaged.”

In a Pepperdine Graphic article last month, Romar said Ross is as good as any point guard in college basketball.

“No doubt about it,” he said. 

Popular college basketball analyst Andy Katz listed Ross as one of 15 guards that could win the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to college basketball’s top point guard. 

“Ross could end up being the highest scorer on this list, but he can also pass the ball extremely well,” said Katz, while detailing the players on the March Madness 365 podcast last month. 

While now it isn’t hard to fathom the 6-foot-1 player setting the current Pepperdine career scoring mark soon, the coronavirus pandemic nearly prevented him from having the chance to do so.  

The season could be considered a tentative one because of the rising number of coronavirus cases across the nation. One or two positive cases on a team’s roster can shut down a team for weeks, which might mean the loss of a few games. 

Ross said playing amid the pandemic is Pepperdine’s biggest challenge.  

“We have to be smart because if anyone tests positive [for coronavirus], the whole team has to sit out for two weeks,” he said.

The Waves began preseason practice a few weeks ago and are tested regularly. The bunch’s slate of games against WCC foes are scheduled to begin in late December. The team is in the process of scheduling matchups against nonconference opponents between the start of the season and their Dec. 31 home game against BYU. 

Ross, a Colorado native, said the unknown of whether there would be a season didn’t impact the way he trained during the summer months in his home state. 

“I prepared the same way I always do,” he said. “I did conditioning, worked out every day, got shots up and we had team Zoom calls.” 

The Waves ended last season with a 16-16 record.

Ross is joined by a slate of talented teammates including junior forward Kessler Edwards. 

In the Graphic article, Romar said  his team’s upperclassmen are talented and understand the Waves’ philosophy.

“Hopefully, that will pay dividends for us,” he said. 

Ross believes Pepperdine will have a winning season. 

“We are preparing every day like we expect to win the WCC championship and reach the NCAA tournament,” he said, adding, “We are one of the most talented teams in the country.” 

After the season, Ross’ goal is to make it to the NBA. 

“That’s Plan A for me,” he said. “The way things are panning out right now, I think that is very possible.”

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