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Still making ‘3’s’: Former WVU guard Ruoff plays on at age 34

By Bob Madison - For the Chronicle | Jan 22, 2021

Former WVU player Alex Ruoff trains at Club Jodentut Badalona in Catalonia, Spain. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN — One of the most intelligent basketball players ever to play at West Virginia, 34-year-old Alex Ruoff is still throwing in three-point field goals in a professional league in Germany.

Ruoff played for two seasons, when Coach John Beilein was leading the Mountaineer fortunes; his last two collegiate seasons were when Bob Huggins came back to Morgantown to coach.

In Beilein’s last season at West Virginia, the Mountaineers crowded their trophy case with championship trophies, from winning the 2006-2007 National Invitational Tournament, completing a season that finished with a 27-9 record.

Ruoff was a near-perfect player in Beilein’s half-court offense that spread the floor and featured backdoor cuts for layups and plenty of the three-point field goal attempts.

Even now, long after he began playing professionally in Europe, Ruoff still holds the WVU records for most three-pointers in a game and the most “3’s” in a career.

When he was at WVU, Ruoff was an expensive match-up for defenses, since he was 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds. Even now, at age 34, he is listed at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds.

After being recruited by Beilein out of rural Brooksville, Fla., he didn’t immediately light any fires at Sunnyside as a freshmen, when Kevin Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey were seniors. But, beginning in his sophomore year, Ruoff began a comfortable three-year string of “trust me” performances that placed him among the 40 best players ever to be a Mountaineer.

He started every game as a sophomore and had the most impact on games with his 191 assists, the third-most in school history for a single season. His scoring average was 10.3 ppg. That was the season West Virginia won the National Invitational Tournament.

As a junior marksman, he upped his scoring average to 13.8 and was even better in the Mountaineer run to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, where he averaged 17.3 ppg and five assists.

Ruoff scored his career high 38 points in a win over Radford as a senior. He scored at a 15.7 ppg clip and was named the Big East Conference Scholar Athlete of the Year and the league’s Sportsman of the Year.

But, not being drafted by the NBA, he signed his first professional contract with Okapi-Aalstar of Belgium. Since his first splashes in the European circles, he has played for 14 total teams, most recently joining Brose Bamberg in Germany on Jan. 13, 2021.

Ruoff returns to Morgantown in the basketball off-season and regularly joins with other former Mountaineer players in summer workouts.

His counseling and business advice about the regimen of professional basketball, especially in Europe, have been used by Mountaineer players and recent graduates wanting to become pros themselves.

Ruoff would accept the “right” coaching position in professional or collegiate basketball once his playing career ends in about “two years.”

But for right now, he is still playing in Germany . . . and still making three-pointers for his just-adopted team.