The Ohio State men’s basketball team is more than a month away from kicking off its 2011-12 season, but its Final Four hopes have already taken a small hit. OSU announced Monday that incoming freshman LaQuinton Ross was ruled an academic non-qualifier by the NCAA and will not be on the Buckeyes roster when the team opens practice on Oct. 14. Ross, who according the Rivals.com was the No. 43 overall recruit in the class of 2011, was the highest-ranked of the five players who committed to play for OSU coach Thad Matta this season. In his senior season of high school, Ross averaged 25.4 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. As an academic non-qualifier, Ross did not meet the academic standards that are required for all NCAA Division I athletes. According to the NCAA’s official website, an incoming student must be a high school graduate, achieve a 2.0 GPA and present a qualifying score on either the SAT or ACT. Academic non-qualifiers are not permitted to receive an academic scholarship for a full year, meaning that Ross likely won’t play for the Buckeyes until the 2012-13 season, at the earliest. Despite Ross having signed a letter of intent last November to play for the Buckeyes, being ruled as an academic non-qualifier returns his status with the NCAA back to that of a prospect. As a prospect, Ross is allowed to be recruited and can sign to play with schools other than OSU, granted that he academically qualifies for the 2012-13 season. Ross has spent the past summer in Columbus, playing alongside current and former OSU players. CBSSports reported on Monday that Ross, who attended high school at Life Center Academy in Burlington, N.J., would be returning to his home state of Mississippi to “take a class and retake the SAT.” From his Twitter account, @qross2011, Ross posted on Friday at approximately 7 p.m.: “Struggling is something I’m use to!! I seem to bounce back everytime this time want be any different!!” The Buckeyes were hoping that Ross, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward, would help replace some of the perimeter scoring that the team lost when forward David Lighty and guard Jon Diebler graduated. With senior guard William Buford and sophomore swingmen Deshaun Thomas and Jordan Sibert returning this year, it is possible that Ross may not have found playing time in Matta’s rotation. With 2010-11 All-American and OSU leading scorer and rebounder Jared Sullinger returning for his sophomore season, the Buckeyes are expected to be a top-five team to start this season. OSU kicks off its regular season on Nov. 11 against Wright State in the Global Sports Shoot-out.