Missouri's Ricardo Ratliffe puts artistic side on hold to focus on basketball

Thursday, February 23, 2012 | 10:12 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA – Ricardo Ratliffe leads the nation with a 72.6 field goal percentage for the Missouri men's basketball team, but he has a different talent that can’t be seen on the court.

Ratliffe said when he was 4 years old he watched his 14-year-old brother draw and admired his ability.

“I figured if he could do it, it’s my brother, so I started trying to do it. I was actually pretty good, so I kept doing it,” Ratliffe said.

He drew all kinds of things up through high school, when his skill reached its highest point, he said. The last drawing he made for a class was of himself standing in a field. It hangs on the wall in his bedroom.

Ratliffe’s roommate, senior guard Matt Pressey, didn’t know Ratliffe had artistic ability. When he walked in to Ratliffe’s room, he had no idea the art on the wall was done by his roommate.

“I thought he bought a painting or something,” Pressey said. 

Ratliffe’s artistic skills aren’t only limited to paper or canvas, he’s also designed more than half of the tattoos that cover his body. The most meaningful of his illustrations is a picture of an angel sitting on a basketball and praying, which is tattooed on Ratliffe's side. For him, it’s a reminder of some of the most important things in his life — faith and basketball. 

With a demanding schedule filled with classes, practices and games, Ratliffe doesn’t have the time to dedicate to his artwork like he used to have. But he’ll still doodle in his down time, drawing cartoons of himself or anything that has to do with basketball.

“It’s probably going to be something I go to years down the line when I get some time,” Ratliffe said.

At the moment, Ratliffe is concentrating on providing more muscle for the No. 3-ranked Tigers in their awaygame Saturday against No. 4 Kansas.

“We need him to be a little bit more physical,” Missouri Head Coach Frank Haith said of Ratliffe’s game against Kansas State on Tuesday. “We need his body. We’re a team that lacks a lot of muscle.”

When faced with the task of going up against Kansas junior forward Thomas Robinson, Ratliffe said you don’t stop him, you just try to contain him. Ratliffe said he wants to limit Robinson’s open jump shots andallow zero dunks “because that gets the crowd into the game,” he said.

Last year, Ratliffe played Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse for the first time and said it was a crazy, loud atmosphere. 

“It was definitely the best crowd I’ve witnessed. They’re all in unity. They all hate us,” Ratliffe said. “It’s kind of scary at first to jump tip. Then you try to just block it all out. A lot of people just heckling at you, people that you don’t even know and that don’t know you just yelling at you for no reason. It’s kind of like, ‘Why are you mad at me?’”

Ratliffe plans on using former Missouri coach Mike Anderson’s tip to deal with the hostile environment — pretend like the crowd is cheering for Missouri instead of Kansas.

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