A 6’6″ guard/forward, he played college basketball at California State University, Long Beach under coach Jerry Tarkanian. He
still holds the school’s career record for scoring average (21.4). He was twice named first-team AP All-American by the AP, in 1971–72 and 1972–73.
Ratleff played for the United States national basketball team at the 1972 Summer Olympics, where the United States lost a controversial gold medal game to the Soviet Union. Ratleff and his teammates refused to accept silver medals. Throughout the Olympic tournament, Ratleff averaged 6.4 points per game.
In 1991 his number 42 was retired by Long Beach State. In 2009, he was inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2015, he was part of the class inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame and in 2017 he was inducted into the Ohio High School Athletic Association Ring of Champions.