WVU Alum Alex Ruoff Eyes Continuance of Euro Career
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Heading into his 11th season overseas, West Virginia basketball alumnus Alex Ruoff is getting over the hurdle of a knee injury that kept him out of action a year ago. He is nearly finished with the rehabilitation stage, and will be ready to go when European leagues crank up in a couple of months.
“I am almost out of rehab. I have about three weeks left,” said Ruoff, who participated in Bob Huggins Basketball Fantasy Camp while bringing his knee back in to shape. “This past year, due to the timing of the injury I missed the whole year, but I will be back and ready to go again in August.”
A sharpshooter who made 37.6 percent of his 3-point attempts at WVU (12th all-time) while finishing his career with 1,420 points (21st all-time), Ruoff has been a stalwart in Europe. He’s played in leagues in Belgium, Germany and Spain, around a stint in the NBA Development League (now the G League) and is hoping to play in Europe again this year, with Spain being his preferred location. Although the knee injury was Ruoff’s second season-ending mishap (he also was knocked out in 2011 while in Belgium), he thinks he has plenty of mileage left in the tank.
“Next year will be my 11th year, and I’m 31 years old. At some point your body will tell you when [it’s time] and I’m not going to run the brakes off, but I haven’t reached my peak yet. Overseas, a lot of guys reach their peaks [in the low- to mid-30s].”
Ruoff knows that from experience, as he relates a story of getting abused by a player on the north side of 30 while a rookie in Belgium. That was just a part of his education, which included an eye-opening experience after graduating from college.
“I took a contract in Belgium not knowing where it was, and jumped on a flight not knowing where I was going,” the Spring Hill, Fla., native recounted. “We as Americans tend to be a little arrogant, and there are so many different cultures and outlooks in the world. It has been an incredible experience, and it has broadened my horizons.”
On the court, Ruoff has adapted well to a game that plays differently than the U.S. pro ranks. It’s one that probably suits his personal style and abilities more.
“Basketball is different there. There’s not so much isolation,” he explained of hoops in many European leagues. There is a lot more passing, a lot more fundamentals. There’s a lot higher basketball IQ. It’s maybe like basketball was here ten or 15 years ago.”
A four-time league Academic All Star, as well as the Big East’s Scholar-Athlete of the year, Ruoff was well equipped to handle the learning process. And while he’s not done playing yet, he’s also looking forward to the next stage of his life, once his career on the court is over.
“I thought I was going to get into coaching when I first got out of school, and I might get back into that now,” he said of his future plans. “I’ve flirted with getting into strength and conditioning, what with all of the rehab work I’ve done with Andy Kettler. I come from a family of teachers, and I have a history degree, so I can always fall back on that too.”