Rookie is rusty, but Mavericks like what they see

Posted Sunday, Oct. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
More information Mavericks preseason schedule
Mon. vs. N.O.7:30 p.m.
Wed. at Mem. 7 p.m.
O 14 vs. Orl.7:30 p.m.
O 16 at Ind.7 p.m.
O 19 at Char.7:30 p.m.
O 21 at Hou.7 p.m.
O 23 vs. Atl.7:30 p.m.
O 25 vs. Ind.7:30 p.m.

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Ricky Ledo’s tremendously high skill set is not debatable. But simply judging by how he’s gone about his business during the first week of training camp, it’s obvious that the Dallas Mavericks’ shooting guard is still a bit rusty.

“[He has] high skill level, high ability level, terrific athlete,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “And you saw kind of the mixture of things that we’ve got to kind of work through.

“He can get the ball in the basket. But judgment situations, he needs some work on. But that’s why we have training camp, and that’s why we have exhibition games and that’s why we have the D-League that can really help with those things.”

Playing in the D-League with the Texas Legends in Frisco might be Ledo’s destination at some point this season, but the Mavericks know the rookie from Providence has some raw skills that just need nurturing.

That’s even more evident by the fact that Ledo was a high school superstar in Rhode Island, but didn’t play any college basketball at Providence because he was ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA last year as a freshman.

Thus, other than his stint in the Mavericks’ summer league in Las Vegas this past summer, Ledo hasn’t played competitive basketball since the spring of 2012. In short, he has some catching up to do.

“It was frustrating,” Ledo said of being ruled academically ineligible. “It was a dream to play college basketball.

“It was a dream to play in front of my family, and when you don’t get to do it, it’s always disappointing. But it’s cool, it’s in the past and I’m here now, so I’m not looking back.”

Neither are the Mavericks.

“If you sit out a year and not play competitively, I think it’s going to be a factor, but that’s in the past,” Carlisle said. “He competed in the NBA summer league against NBA players, he’s been here pretty much steadily since August working out, working on his game, working on his body, and so this is a big-picture situation.

“It’s not so much what’s going on today. Each month we want to look at his overall progress and say, ‘Yeah, he’s gotten better.’”

A McDonald’s All-American whom ESPN rated as the No. 21 overall high school prospect in the nation after his high school senior season, Ledo was drafted 43rd overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in June. But his draft rights were traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, who subsequently shipped Ledo to the Mavericks.

On July 24, the Mavericks signed Ledo to a four-year, $3.3 million contract, banking on the notion that he has a bright upside.

So, what exactly did Ledo believe he missed by not playing last season?

“Just the country [not] seeing me,” said the 6-foot-7, 200-pound rookie. “That’s the only thing I really missed.

“That the whole nation didn’t get to see me show how I can really play and what I’m worth.”

The Mavericks, who took Saturday off, are hoping Ledo will one day reach his full potential.

“This is really the infancy of his career,” Carlisle said. “We like him as a prospect. He’s strung together about eight or nine solid days in a row, and that’s a very good sign.”

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

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