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Moments after Texas Tech torpedoed Gonzaga in the 2005 NCAA Tournament with Ronald Ross playing a starring role, Bob Knight gave his senior guard an uncommon degree of praise.
The hard-edged Tech coach called Ross "an all-time example to kids as to what they can do with what they have." Knight added that he'd "never had a player that I would have had more admiration for than Ronald Ross."
Ross didn't even have a scholarship when he came to Texas Tech in 2001. By the time he finished four seasons later, he'd earned first-team all-Big 12 and all-America recognition. On Friday night, the 6-foot-2 guard was was part of a six-member class inducted into the Tech Athletics Hall of Fame.
Ross told an audience at the Overton Hotel & Conference Center it could not have happened without all Knight offered him: knowledge, yes, but just a chance to be part of the program.
"He could have said no," Ross said. "He gave me that opportunity to walk on, and I said, 'Let's do it.' Right there from that moment, I wanted to impact winning, I wanted to be a part of it and I didn't want to settle for less.
"He opened doors for me. He took the time to teach me ... and it changed my life, for sure."
The Double T Varsity Club, Tech's association of former letter winners, also Inducted track and field thrower D'Andra Carter, football players Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, golfer Brooke Lowrance and baseball second baseman Jason Totman.
It's not as if Ross had no credentials before Tech. His high-school teams in Hobbs, New Mexico, won three consecutive state championships with Ross being a top scorer in the state. But only smaller four-year schools and junior colleges recruited him.
"I always was that second or third (option)," he said on college's recruiting lists. "So coaches would call and be like, 'If we don't sign this guy, we're going to sign you.' Obviously, that didn't work out."
Given a sneaker in the door at Tech, Ross took full advantage. He helped the Red Raiders make the NCAA Tournament three times, and they beat UCLA and Gonzaga to reach the round of 16 his senior year. He averaged 17.5 points and 5.5 rebounds that season as well as setting school single-season and career records for steals.
Whereas other players have been turned off over the years by Knight's abrasive style, Ross said, "He really connected to me, and I just wanted to learn from him."
"I came out of New Mexico as one of the top scorers, and the first day at Tech (Knight) said, 'You're going to play defense,' " Ross told emcee Robert Giovannetti. "I never would have dreamed it. It was never result-driven. It was just winning that day, and he taught me that: Don't waste your time. Each moment, each play, everything you do matters. And I just bought into everything he said."
Friday's honorees were selected last year to be the class of 2020. That event didn't materialize because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so the ceremony was pushed back a year. Crabtree's father and Harrell's wife represented the pass-and-catch tandem from the Red Raiders' 11-win team of 2008. The two players appeared via a prerecorded Zoom video session.
Carter is a daughter of 1984 Olympic silver-medal shot putter Michael Carter and a sister of 2016 Olympic gold-medal shot putter Michelle Carter.
When D'Andra Carter won the NCAA outdoor title in the discus in 2009, she followed Leigh Daniel, Jonathan Johnson and Sally Kipyego as the fourth Tech track and field athlete with an NCAA title. She also won two Big 12 outdoor titles.
"Outwardly, I was very calm, but inwardly I was very anxious, very nervous," she said. "But one thing I do know how to do is perform, so I got up there and I got my job done."
Lowrance grew up in Tech's back yard, 85 miles away in Snyder, and took to golf early on.
"The whole reason I got into golf (is) my dad would want to play," she said. "I think I was about 6 years old. He was trying to get my older sister involved in the game, and she really wanted no part of it.
"I think we had two little nine-hole golf courses, and that's all I did pretty much my entire little-kid life."
At Tech from 1995-99, she led the team to three NCAA regional appearances and the program's first trip to the NCAA championship final event in 1996. She finished among the top 10 at the Big 12 tournament three times, won two individual titles and earned honorable mention all-America recognition.
Lowrance said she owes a lot of that to former Tech coach Jeff Mitchell.
"He was the first person outside of Snyder that truly believed in me," she said. "He sat me down one day and said, 'You're going to be really good.' And it was the first time somebody outside my little Snyder bubble said that, so it meant a lot."
Tech followers have become accustomed to a national-caliber baseball program with the Red Raiders having made the College World Series four times since 2014. Totman, a an all-America second baseman, played only two seasons at Tech after transferring from a Kansas junior college, but they were two meaningful seasons.
In 1994, the Red Raiders went 40-17 but weren't selected for the NCAA postseason. A year later, they went 51-14, were Southwest Conference regular-season and tournament champions and finished one victory short of the CWS.
Totman remembered the team convening at a Lubbock restaurant for the 1994 NCAA selection show.
"They kept naming names and naming teams, and we didn't show up," he said. "We were like, 'We won 40 games that year. What do you have to do to get to regionals?'
"But I think that motivated us enough as a team for the next year, because a lot of guys were coming back. We won 51 games and really did a good job for setting Tech baseball the platform that it is today."
Totman's .435 average and .560 on-base percentage in 1995 and his .407 average over two seasons still rank second on the Tech single-season and career charts.
He joined his wife, former Tech golfer Stacey Kolb Totman, as the only husband-wife pair of former athletes in the Tech Hall of Fame, which recognizes outstanding athletic achievement.
The late football quarterback Junior Arterburn is a member of the Tech Hall of Fame, and his wife Joyce, founder of the women's spirit organization the High Riders, is a member of the Tech Hall of Honor, which recognizes outstanding contributions to Tech athletics.
This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Ronald Ross credits Bobby Knight in Texas Tech hall of fame speech