Ruoff Using NBA D-League To Get Back Overseas - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Ruoff Using NBA D-League To Get Back Overseas

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DES MOINES, Iowa -

Former West Virginia University basketball player Alex Ruoff saw his worst fear come true one year ago. He suffered a torn ACL and saw his professional season in Belgium come to a screeching halt.

Ruoff returned to Morgantown and worked with the staff at WVU to help rehab his knee following surgery. That rehab was successful and Ruoff returned to the court this season.

He wanted to return overseas, but the uncertainty of his knee kept European teams from pulling the trigger on signing Ruoff.

"During the offseason when you are working to get overseas, that is kind of tough," Ruoff said. "You are the ACL guy. Nobody knows if you are really fully back or you are back to 100 percent or what."

Ruoff found himself in a situation where he realized he could get back overseas, but needed to prove he had overcome the torn ACL and returned to form. That eventually landed him with the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League.

"It was important for me to get back on the court and prove myself," Ruoff stated. "The D-League provided me with that opportunity and it ended up being Canton."

As the Canton roster took shape, Ruoff found himself sharing a locker room with another former WVU basketball player, Kevin Jones.

"I had a good time in Canton," Ruoff smiled. "It was really fun playing with KJ. I had a lot of fun playing with him."

Jones was only in Canton with Ruoff for a short period of time before he received a promotion to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Ruoff remained with the Charge and continued to prove himself on the floor. That began getting the attention of European teams.

"I had a little fallout with management, which I don't really want to get into," Ruoff stated. "I was trying to get overseas again a couple of months ago and that couldn't happen, so I was forced to come back to the D-League."

That fallout with management eventually led to Ruoff's release from the Charge. That is when he started popping up in Morgantown and attending some of West Virginia's basketball games. Perhaps you saw him there. He spent about three weeks in Morgantown while he tried to figure out what to do next. That is when the Iowa Charge called and Ruoff headed west.

"I think they needed outside shooting, that's why they called," Ruoff said. "There was only one month of the season left when I joined the team with no hopes to make the playoffs. I think they wanted to bring in some outside shooting and I have been able to do that."

The key phrase in Ruoff's statement was, "no hopes to make the playoffs." Once his D-League season is over, he could join a European team.

"With this opportunity presenting itself to join a team that is not going to make the playoffs, it was important because April 6 I am able to get out of the contract here and possibly join a team for the rest of the season overseas," Ruoff explained. "I am hoping to do that, but we'll see."

Ruoff has been with the Energy for five games. He is averaging 10 points in 21 minutes per game. He is shooting 47 percent from three-point range and 55 percent from the floor since joining the Energy.

"I'll be honest with you, I'm making my money by playing hard-nosed defense and knocking down open shots," Ruoff stated. "That's all really I needed to prove this year and that is what I am doing. I am looking forward to getting back overseas next year."

Playing overseas is not for everyone. The culture changes are not always an easy adjustment for American players. Ruoff is not your typical American. He enjoys the experience for more than just the basketball.

"Being a history buff, I think I enjoy it more than others," Ruoff laughed. "There is so much history over there in Europe. I am just like a tourist. I really enjoy it. I'm very excited to get back."

Another joy for Ruoff in Europe is to constantly run into some of his former opponents in college.

"Basketball really shrinks the world," Ruoff stated. "You will be playing in the Euro challenge and you will end up in Russia somewhere and you go against a guy you played against for four years. I know Paul Harris and Chris Rice and some of the USF guys on my team here. We have that common bond of going through the Big East and playing in the best conference that ever existed. We have a lot of pride behind it."

While Ruoff was in limbo between Canton and Iowa, he attended numerous WVU basketball games. Watching the Mountaineers this season was as painful for him as it was for other West Virginia fans.

"I think with the talent we had this year that people expected it to be better," Ruoff shrugged. " I think coach expected it to be better based on the schedule and something didn't click. I'm not sure what the answers are. I know they have a lot of talent on that team and if they click they are going to be something special."

Ruoff's teams seemed to "click" at West Virginia. Those teams improved throughout the season. This one did not get much better from game one to game 32. Bob Huggins said he needs to find more "coachable" players following the first round loss to Texas Tech in the Big 12 tournament. Ruoff prides himself and his former WVU teammates on how "coachable" they were.

"It helps, especially that first year when Huggs was here and we went to the Sweet 16," Ruoff said. "We had a lot of smart guys, Darris Nichols, Da'Sean (Butler), Wellington (Smith), Cam Thoroughman, (Joe) Mazzulla and a lot of smart players, which made it easy for us to adapt to the new system. I think Coach got a little spoiled, but maybe it is something they need to look for when they recruit from now on."

Ruoff season with the Iowa Energy is set to end in early April. He is not from Morgantown, but like so many other WVU athletes, he has a hard time staying away. In fact, he expects to return to Morgantown unless he finds another job to finish up the European season.

"Without even trying to, it's turned into my home," Ruoff laughed. "I get two months during the offseason, but I am always up there training with the guys. I might as well buy a house up there because I am always there. I love it. I love being around the coaching staff and the players. It is a lot of fun."

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