To Wyoming and back

Park grad Ladan Ricketts’ road to Montana State
Ryan Peerboom — Enterprise Staff Writer
Thursday, January 23, 2020
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Enterprise photo by Ryan Peerboom

Montana State’s Ladan Ricketts stands near midcourt at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse on the campus of Montana State University on Friday.

Ladan Ricketts’ journey from Park High star player to Montana State’s sharpshooter wasn’t just a quick drive over the Bozeman Pass. Ricketts took the scenic route — with a detour through Wyoming — to get there.

“It was a little bit of a different route than maybe some other players (take),” he said during a recent interview with The Enterprise.

Ricketts’ confidence on the court has helped him drain shots from beyond the arc at an impressive 42 percent for the Bobcats this season. But his confidence in his ability got him to MSU in the first place. 

When Ricketts graduated from Park High in 2016 — where he was named All-Conference three times, All-State twice and Gallatin Valley Player of the Year as a senior — he knew he could be a scholarship athlete at the Division I level. 

“My goal was to get a division one scholarship to play basketball,” he said. “I just wanted to have my school paid for and play division one ball.” 

In order to prove he deserved a scholarship, Ricketts took a chance and went to Sheridan, Wyoming, where he committed to play basketball at Sheridan College. Sheridan is a junior college that gives players the opportunity to develop before moving on to the next level. 

“I was able to have the opportunity to play (at Sheridan),” he said. “They’re a Division I national ‘Ju-co,’ so they’re a really good school.”

At Sheridan, Ricketts proved he was worthy of a scholarship and began receiving interest from multiple schools during his sophomore season. Ricketts credits his hard work and good coaching for helping him develop at Sheridan. 

“I was fortunate to have some great coaches while at Sheridan,” he said.

 Although things were tough when he didn’t receive a lot of interest as a freshman, Ricketts knew he was in the right place. 

“I definitely had some doubt, but I always had this idea in the back of my mind that it was going to work out either way, no matter where I ended up,” he said. 

Ricketts finally had the opportunity to choose where he wanted to play. Ultimately, his stay in Wyoming landed him 25 miles down the road from where he grew up.

“Fortunately, I was recruited by quite a few schools and eventually my sophomore year I started to get recruited by MSU,” he said. “They brought me out for a visit and I committed while I was here and it was awesome.”

Ricketts had realized his dream — he was officially a scholarship athlete at a Division I university. 

Park basketball coach Layne Glaus, who coached Ricketts during his senior season, said he knew Ricketts could play on that stage as long as he continued to put the work in. 

“I knew he could shoot the ball at that level and he had the height,” Glaus said. “He had a great work ethic and a high level of character as well. If he put a focus on the weight room, I knew he could (play Division I). That’s exactly what happened.”

Ricketts reached his goal, but had another obstacle to deal with. He was constantly feeling sick, and had no answers as to why. The summer he started at MSU, he was diagnosed with Celiac disease, an immune disorder that causes an allergy to gluten.  

“I’m really glad that I figured out what was happening because it’s — not trying to be dramatic or anything — but it’s really changed my quality of life,” he said.

Ricketts was forced to make changes to his diet in order to avoid gluten, but knowing what he was dealing with has helped him heal. Ricketts said Bozeman has made the transition to a gluten-free diet easier. 

“It definitely helps being in Bozeman, too,” he said. “Gluten-free is kind of a trend almost. Bozeman has kind of become a trendy town (so) there’s a lot of gluten-free options which is kind of nice.”

He struggled with the changes his junior season as he slowly started the recovery process. If he never figured out what was going on, he doesn’t know if he’d still be able to play basketball.

“It’s something I’ve thought about before. and honestly, I don’t know (where my career would be),” he said. “It got to a point where I was just feeling so awful, all the time, every day, that I was starting to question whether I could really keep playing basketball.” 

After a junior year that ended with a strained calf, Ricketts has fallen into his role with the Bobcats this year in his senior season. With the addition of coach Danny Sprinkle, Ricketts has appeared in every game for the Bobcats, has thrived in his role as MSU’s sharpshooter and is converting 3-pointers more efficiently than any of the Bobcats’ long-range threats. Ricketts describes himself as a 3-and-D style of player. 

“My job here is to be able to make shots and obviously defend and space the floor,” he said.

Ricketts, a marketing major, has accomplished plenty during his basketball career, but he’s not sure if he will continue playing — overseas — or go into coaching after this season. He doesn’t know what his future holds, but, when talking about his past, he said he “wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

“I probably wouldn’t want it any other way now that I’m looking back at it,” he said. “Because being able to go to junior college kind of kept me working hard, because I knew that I had to work as hard as I could to be recruited by these schools.”