By Jamie Thomas
A highly-rated 5’ 11’’ Guard signing for a team who punch above their weight when recruiting … if it feels like we’ve been here before, that’s because we were last year when Arizona’s Parker Jackson-Cartwright joined Cheshire Phoenix ahead of the 2019/20 season.
PJC went on to rank second in the BBL in points per game and third in assists, before winning the Basketball Journalists Association’s Player of the Year after taking the league by storm. Now Parker has moved on, the Nix need a new floor general … and boy have they found one!
24-year-old Kahron Ross has been tasked with filling the Nix’s PJC-shaped void and, if his career to date is anything to go by, he’s going to be more than up to the task and is looking forward to guiding the Nix to glory this season.
“A good year here for me would be winning it all.” the Arkansas native, Ross, said. “The goal for me is always for the team to win a championship, so from day one we’re going to be building those habits, carrying it into the season, peaking at the right time and hopefully winning the championship.
“I just can’t wait to play some basketball again, to be honest. I haven’t played in what seems like forever, so I’m just ready to get on the court, be around the guys and enjoy that team atmosphere.
“Parker Jackson-Cartwright had great success last year, and our games are similar, so I think this is going to be a great fit for me. Him doing so well is one of the reasons I came to the BBL because he thrived here, and I’m going to do my best to too.”
“I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder.”
At college in Lehigh, theatre was a part of Ross’ studies but he didn’t seek the limelight, instead spending time behind the scenes setting the stage for those who wanted to perform to be able to do so – a role similar to the one he fills on the basketball court, as Ross holds staggering assists records at Lehigh and the Patriot’s League!
Ross comes across as comfortable and confident in his own abilities, and details how being smaller than his competitors is something that has also helped his mentality towards playing the game too.
“I started playing when I was maybe five years old but I’ve always played up (an age group) and didn’t play against players my own age until I reached the ninth grade.
“I’ve always been the quickest guy on the court, but I think that exposure to bigger and stronger players at a young age really helped me do well in the college game and prepared me well for the professional game too.
“I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder and had an edge to my game because I’ve always been overlooked, being shorter than other guards, and playing with that edge has always been the way I’ve played the game.”
“Knowing they came from where I came from really gave me hope.”
Arkansas is one of the smaller states in the US, but that hasn’t stopped them producing some phenomenal basketball talent, with the likes of Scottie Pippen, Derek Fisher, Joe Johnson and more being Arkansas natives like the Nix’s latest recruit.
There’s certainly an NBA connection to Ross’ career too, as he shares college records with Portland Trailblazers Guard C.J. McCollum, and grew up competing against the Charlotte Hornets’ Malik Monk and that – coupled with the legends who’ve reached the NBA from the state too – gave Ross hope of becoming a professional player.
“Seeing guys from my area live out their dreams and achieve incredible things was very inspiring to me as a young player, for sure. I played in and against the same high schools as those guys.
“The likes of Derek Fisher went to Little Rock Park View, which was one of our big high school rivals, as well as Joe Johnson and Bobby Portis and so on, so to play where they played and see them reach that height and they came from where I came from definitely gave me hope.
“When I got to college I started doing well, winning Rookie of the Year before being All-League First Team in my second year and that success, as well as being inspired by those who came before me, made me realise that I really had a chance to do something special in my career.”
“I modelled my game on Chris Paul.”
Look back at the reports of Ross from College or in his pro career to date and there’ll be a common phrase – this is a team-first player who cares more about assists for his teammates than scoring himself, which is quite something for a player who scored 15ppg in Albania last year, after winning Rookie of the Year in Germany’s top flight the year before.
The 24-year-old will be donning the number three jersey for the Nix this season and credits his two idols for the choice of number and his playing style.
“My job is all about making my teammates better, being a team first guy, and not worrying so much about scoring, but about helping the team win however I can instead.
“Dwyane Wade was an idol growing up. I should have been 6ft 4’’ like D-Wade, but it wasn’t meant to be(!), and I modelled my game on Chris Paul – he’s just gritty and plays with that same chip on his shoulder that I do as a smaller guard and he’s a team-first player, too.
“I’ll be wearing number three this year for the Nix and that’s because of how much I admire those players, for sure.